News Release

New Data Shows Increases in Commuting Lengths, Frustration

Dec 15, 2004

New data presented at today’s National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) meeting indicates an increase in one-way commuting distances over the past three years. The average one-way commuting distance jumped from 15.5 miles in 2001 to 16.5 miles this year, according to statistics from the 2004 State of the Commute Survey.

Of the 7,200 area workers surveyed, 29% said their commutes were more difficult than they were a year ago—mostly due to longer commuting distances or increased congestion. More than half said their commutes were about the same; 14% said their commutes were easier than last year. The survey also found that of commuters who have free parking provided by their employers, 86% of them drive to work alone. Only 47% of commuters drive alone if they lack the free parking benefits.

The State of the Commute Survey is conducted every three years by Commuter Connections, a regional commuter assistance program supported by the District, Maryland and Virginia Departments of Transportation with state and federal transportation funds. The full report is expected to be released in Spring 2005.

The TPB was also briefed on a study examining commuter travel characteristics of the region’s low-income workers and minorities, indicating these groups are more likely to depend on the bus as a primary mode of transportation than the average worker. The study found that 13% of people with limited English skills, 12% of low-income workers and 10% of Hispanics commute by bus as compared with 4% of the general population.

Low-income workers and people with limited English skills were also found to be twice as likely to walk to work as the average worker. It was noted that this might account for the disproportionately high number of pedestrian fatalities among some of these groups. The findings also showed that low-income workers and minority groups are more likely to live near transit stops than the general population.

View the presentation on how different groups commute to work and how accessible public transit is to various employees, as well as where the different groups live in the region.

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