Nearly 80 Percent Of Workers Drive To Work Alone

According to new data from the Census Bureau, 600,000 Americans have commutes to work that are longer than 90 minutes and 50 miles. But those workers with longer commutes are far more likely than other workers to either use public transit or carpool. In fact, nearly 4 in 5 workers who work outside of the home drive to work alone:

According to Out-of-State and Long Commutes: 2011, 23.0 percent of workers with long commutes (60 minutes or more) use public transit, compared with 5.3 percent for all workers. Only 61.1 percent of workers with long commutes drove to work alone, compared with 79.9 percent for all workers who worked outside the home.

“The average travel time for workers who commute by public transportation is higher than that of workers who use other modes. For some workers, using transit is a necessity, but others simply choose a longer travel time over sitting in traffic,” said Brian McKenzie, a Census Bureau statistician and author of the brief.

Rail travel accounted for 11.8 percent of workers with long commutes, and other forms of public transportation accounted for 11.2 percent.

As a report from Texas A&M noted, workers in America sat in traffic for a collective 5.5 billion hours in 2011. And congestion in major cities has gotten significantly worse in recent decades, as this chart shows:

Public transit use has increased steadily in recent years, but investment in it has not. Instead, it has plateaued, leaving transit agencies to handle more riders with no new resources:

Republicans want to make this problem worse by diverting funding meant for mass transit to highway construction. But that would simply exacerbate the already existing incentives to drive to work alone, rather than adopting a different mode of transport.