This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

March 17, 2004

Latest U.S. Census Shows More Workers Driving Alone to Work

More than three-quarters of U.S. workers drove to work alone in 2000, according to a newly released brief from the U.S. Census Bureau. Of the remaining workers, 12 percent carpooled, 4.7 percent used public transportation, 3.3 percent worked at home, 2.9 percent walked to work, and 1.2 percent used other means, such as a motorcycle or bicycle. Of all modes of travel to work, driving by car increased the most between the 1990 and 2000 U.S. censuses, and the number of people walking and taking public transportation to work actually dropped. Over the same time period, the average travel time to work increased by 3.1 minutes to 25.5 minutes, a 14 percent increase. See the Census 2000 Brief, "Journey to Work: 2000" (PDF 503 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

What makes regional transportation systems successful? According to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), metropolitan areas with "smart growth" transportation systems—those that feature extensive transit services, shorter block sizes, and a relatively dense and well-connected network of streets—experience more efficient vehicle travel and modest improvements in traffic congestion. In contrast, the study found that lane additions and decreased population densities (two common characteristics of urban sprawl) do not prevent worsening congestion. For example, congestion delays in Detroit, Michigan, nearly quadrupled between 1982 and 2000, although the number of miles of road available, counting all the lanes, increased 13 percent and the population increased only 5.5 percent. But that population has spread out over a larger area, as Detroit's urbanized land area expanded by 21 percent. See the EPA report, "Characteristics and Performance of Regional Transportation Systems."