A break in traffic?

News AASHTO Journal August 14, 2001
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Despite an increase of some 27 million vehicles on the nation's highways in the past decade, the average commuting time for wor

Despite an increase of some 27 million vehicles on the nation's highways in the past decade, the average commuting time for workers increased by slightly less than two minutes, according to the latest census data.


Transportation specialist Alan Pisarski told AASHTO's Administrative Subcommittee on Public Affairs that the numbers don't indicate whether people are making longer or slower trips due to congestion. "It may be a little of both," he said. "What's remarkable is the performance of the system."


The statistics are part of the American Community Survey, a new yearly census tool intended to replace the "long form" completed by 700,000 of the 20 million Americans surveyed in 2000. The findings show that over the past 10 years Americans overall were better educated, better paid and more likely to own a car and to drive to work alone.


Among the findings:


* The average commuting time increased from 22.4 minutes in 1990 to 24.3 minutes in 2000. An estimated 44% of workers can get to their jobs in less than 20 minutes, while 7% travel an hour or more.


* A total of 87.5% of workers get to their jobs by car, truck or van. Mass transit's market share held steady at about 5%. Workers walking to work slipped from 3.9 to 2.7%. Employees working at home increased only slightly from 3.0 to 3.2%.


* Carpooling declined from 13% in 1990 to 11% in 2000. Workers driving to work alone increased from 73% in 1990 to 76% in 2000.


* In what Pisarski referred to as the "democratization of mobility" a total of 91% of American housholds had a car available to them, up from 88% in 1990.


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