In an article in the New Geography blog, Aaron Renn looks at workers' use of public transit in the nation's major metropolitan areas using the latest US Census data. For advocates of public transit and smart growth, it does not offer particularly reassuring results: Only in New York does transit usage exceed 15% (31.1%) and only three metro areas have seen public transit growth grow by more than one percent over the last decade. The relative good news is that the Washington metro area ranks second to New York in worker transit use at 14.8% and second in transit use growth (behind NY) over the decade at 3.6%.
Of note, biking and walking remain largely irrelevant in understanding commuting patterns. Only seven of the top 51 metro areas show biking with more than a one percent role, led by Portland at 2.3%, and Washington isn't even on the top ten list. Walking's share is larger with leader New York showing a 6.3% share and Washington standing at ninth with a 3.2% share. Quite frankly, it is easier and safer to walk, especially for older workers.
In some small way, the study reinforces the impression created by the recent GMU CRA study suggesting there will be few shifts in commuting shares over the next three decades. It also suggests that the French may have found a way to make that change more quickly by making transit free.