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Robert Longley

America Still Drives Alone

By September 29, 2011

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Not Enough Cars in the HOV LaneDespite thousands of miles of HOV carpool lanes in virtually every metropolitan area in the nation, over 76.6% of all Americans who drive to work still drive alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Data highlights from the latest American Communities Survey (ACS) showed that the percentage of people driving to work alone increased from 76.1% in 2009 to 76.6% in 2010, while ride-sharing dropped from 10% to 9.7%.

In raw numbers this means that out of a total U.S. workforce of about 131 million people, over 100.3 million drive to work alone, while only about 12.7 million carpool.

The percentage of working people taking public transportation to work declined from 5% in 2009 to 4.9% in 2010. About 2.8% walked to work in 2010, and 4.3% solved the whole problem by working at home.

Another 2,327,228 workers (1.7 percent of all workers) took other means of transportation to work in 2010. Of them, 731,286 rode a bicycle to work (down from 765,703 in 2009); 266,777 rode a motorcycle to work (down from 294,124); 151,247 took a taxicab to work; and 1,177,918 took some other mode of transportation.

Less carpooling and use of public transportation resulted in more traffic congestion, and thus, a slight increase in the time it takes to get to work. The median time to get to work increased from 25.1 minutes in 2009 to 25.3 minutes in 2010. At this rate, the Census Bureau estimates that Americans spend more time driving back-and-forth to work every year than they spend on vacation.

Also See: Americans Spend Over 100 Hours a Year Commuting

Along with data from the ACS, the Census Bureau released Commuting in the United States: 2009, a report providing more detailed information about how the Americans who still have jobs get to them. It examines both ends of the daily commute, including when we leave for work and how long it takes us to get there in various metropolitan areas.

According to report, the mean travel time to work has increased from under 22 minutes in 1980 to 25 minutes by 2000. In 2009, the longest times to get to work were among workers who left home during the midnight to 5:00 a.m. period. Carpoolers made the trip in average of 45.1 minutes, compared to 30.8 minutes for those who drove alone.

Also See: Census Reports on Well Being of American Children in 2011

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Photo: Not Enough Cars in the HOV Lane - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


September 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm
(1) Carl Pheneger says:

Of course most people drive alone to work. The average person doesn’t know what time he will be coming home from work each night or have a nearby neighbor who works close to where he works. Car pool lanes are a stupid waste of expensive road and adds to congestion. If this policy was controlled by science instead of politics the failure would have been recognized early and changed.

September 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm
(2) The Carpooling Network says:

You’re absolutely right. The use of the automobile solo leads directly to congestion. The Carpooling Network – http://www.carpoolingnetwork.com – is a completely free site that allows users to find carpool partners throughout North America.

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