Sunday, October 24, 2010

Getting to Work in LA County: 2000 and 2009

Ain't no party like a Census Data party!

Let's see if there has been any change in how Los Angeles County's workers get to work between 2000 and 2009. Data are courtesy of Census 2000 and the 2009 American Community Survey. As a heads up, these measures classify you based on which mode of transportation takes you the farthest in your journey to work.

Drive Alone
2000 - 70.4%
2009 - 72.2%

Carpool
2000 - 15.1%
2009 - 11.1%

Public Transportation
2000 - 6.6%
2009 - 7.3%

Bicycle
2000 - .6%
2009 - .8%

Walked
2000 - 2.9%
2009 - 2.8%

Worked at Home
2000 - 3.5%
2009 - 4.8%

So, from my "people should drive less" perspective, there's some good news and some bad news. On the negative side, the rate of workers driving alone actually went up. The rate of carpooling to work went down pretty significantly (4 percentage points).

On the positive side, transit to work expanded modestly and the rate of bicycling to work ticked up a bit as well. The biggest bright spot is the increase in the rate of people working from home (1.3 percentage points).

It seems then that the gains in working at home, transit to work, and bicycling to work were more than offset by the decrease in carpooling to work, leading to the higher rate of driving alone to work.

I wonder what's stopping the carpoolers. Increased congestion in carpool lanes perhaps? It seems like the financial incentive to carpool was stronger in 2009 (Great Recession) than in 2000. Maybe more people are trapped in houses they don't want to sell for a loss and have to travel farther to get to work because they can't move, making driving alone more attractive.

Well, I don't have the answers, but it is interesting to think about.

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