Based upon recent 2005 Census Data we asked the question a few weeks ago: "Could the region's drive alone rate be going down?" (Could Region's Drive Alone Rate Be Going Down? June 19, 2007) We didn't have data on a regional level, but surmised that by looking at each of the local jurisdiction's drive alone rates that on balance things had slightly improved since 2000 in the area on the whole. Now we have an answer.
According to a just released (July 18, 2007) Preliminary Draft Commuter Connections State of the Commute Survey 2007 Survey Technical Report, the answer is yes. The report, prepared for the Commuter Connections program of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) by LDA Consulting with CIC Research says that as a percentage of weekly commute trips made to job locations outside the home in 2007 that 71% of the region's commuters drove alone. This compares to 74.1% in the 2004 State of the Commute Survey and 72.6% in the 2001 survey.
This COG survey seems to corroborate the data from the Census showing that our region is bucking the national trend which said that the drive alone rate had gone up and was now at 77%. All modes other than drive alone also increased:
Mode 2001 2004 2007
Drive Alone 72.6% 74.1% 71.0%
Train 12.7% 12.8% 13.5%
Car/vanpool 7.6% 6.1% 7.6%
Bus 4.6% 4.7% 5.2%
Bike/Walk 2.4% 2.3% 2.7%
We've known that transit ridership had been increasing as we've received reports from WMATA and the local bus agencies. Across the country transit has held steady and carpooling has dropped, so the fact that the region's carpool number has maintained 2001 levels is a good thing.
There's a wealth of data that appears in this 100+ page report and as we get a chance to take a closer look at it we'll bring you some updates over the next few days and weeks.
Chris Hamilton is the Commuter Services Chief for Arlington County, manager of CommuterPageBlog and a biking/Metro commuter from Rosemont in Alexandria