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Despite rising fuel costs, commuters continued to drive their cars in 2005, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau analysis of data from the American Community Survey. The survey, gathered over the course of the year, found that driving to work was the favored means of commute of nearly nine out of 10 workers (87.7 percent), with most people (77 percent) driving alone.
In contrast, 4.7 percent of commuters used public transportation to travel to work in 2005, an increase of about 0.1 percent over 2000 levels.
About half of the nation’s public transportation commuters can be found in 10 of the nation’s 50 cities with the most workers age 16 or over: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. These cities account for 2.9 million of the nation’s 6.2 million users of public transportation (see detailed tables).
Beyond the total number of public transportation users, these cities also had relatively high rates of public transportation use. However, Los Angeles and Houston, with rates of 10.3 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively, had lower rates than many other smaller cities, including Minneapolis (12.5 percent); Oakland, Calif. (16.5 percent); Portland, Ore. (13.3 percent) and Seattle (17 percent).
“This is a prime example of the value of an ongoing survey such as the American Community Survey,” said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon. “With each succeeding year, we’ll be able to see how people respond to changing circumstances, such as rising gas prices.”
The public transportation data are among the many topics that can be localized from the American Community Survey. Some other commuter facts of interest include:
As part of the Census Bureau’s reengineered 2010 Census, the data collected by the ACS helps federal officials determine where to distribute more than $300 million to state and local governments each year. Responses to the survey are strictly confidential and protected by law.
The 2005 ACS estimates are based on an annual, nationwide household sample of about 250,000 addresses per month. Geographic areas for which data are available are based on total populations of 65,000 or more. The ACS estimates released are for the household population and do not include populations residing in group quarters.
As is the case with all surveys, statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. Estimates for states (or counties, cities, regions, etc.) in the same paragraph in this news release may not be significantly different from one another. Please consult the data tables for specific margins of error. For more information go to http://www.census.gov/acs/www/UseData/.