Posted in: Commentary,
by Gregg Laskoski on Sep 24, 2012 02:30 PM
The national average price of gasoline is nearly 25 cents more per gallon than it was a year ago, and the higher cost, coupled with the nation's weak job outlook tells us misery loves company.
And consequently... USA TODAY is now reporting that fewer Americans are commuting solo. According to U.S. Census data, the share of workers driving to work alone dropped slightly from 2010 to 2011 while commutes on public transportation rose nationally and in some of the largest metro areas in the country.
Group commuting --riding buses, trains, subways, or sharing cars or vans-- rose from 2005 to 2011 in more than a third of 342 metro areas for which data was collected, according to USA TODAY's analysis.
About two-thirds saw jumps in residents using public transit. The share driving to work alone dropped in about two-thirds or more than 200 metros.
New York City, by far the national leader in mass transit use, saw a two-percentage-point jump. Now, almost a third of residents in the New York metro area use public transportation.
The newspaper reports: Ride-sharing "a lot of times is a response to higher gas prices," says Eddie Caine, who heads the van pool program for Valley Metro, Phoenix's regional transportation agency, "but once people try van pooling, they tend to enjoy not having the stress, saving money and they make friends."
This week, the American Public Transportation Association reported the sixth consecutive quarterly increase in ridership -- up 1.6% in the second quarter. Rail showed the biggest jump. Several public transit systems in small and large cities (Ann Arbor, Mich., Boston, Oklahoma City) reported record ridership.
Almost 60% of trips on mass transit are work commutes. The surge in group commutes is showing up in some areas where van pools shuttle employees from train stations or suburbs to job centers. Overall, the percentage of workers carpooling held steady at 9.7% but is still slightly below pre-recession levels -- a likely effect of high unemployment in sectors such as construction and manufacturing.
Let's hear from those of you have moved away from solo commuting to something else. Are you car-pooling? Or getting to work with others by van? How do you like it and has it helped you save time and/or money? Please let us know!