Commuting in DC


Here’s a pie chart of how DC residents get to work:


This is one reason I’m so obsessed with parking policy issues here in the District. When a jurisdiction is in an equilibrium where most people commute to work alone in a car, then it becomes very politically difficult to end policies that subsidize the commute to work alone in a car lifestyle. That, in turn, serves to lock the commute to work alone in a care equilibrium into place.

DC, however, is poised on the balance with 43% of the population commuting by car (and some nonzero number of people owning a car but not using it daily) and only 36 percent of people driving themselves to work on a daily basis. This means that something like higher taxes on downtown parking garages would generate lots of revenue from non-residents without disadvantaging the majority of DC residents. The revenue could then be used to reduce the district’s sales tax or increase the personal exemption of the DC income tax. Not only would that be good tax policy, it would shift the balance of power in the future further in the direction of rolling back car-subsidization policies.