Region Forward Blog

Survey to analyze transportation patterns of metro DC residents

Aug 17, 2011


We know that metropolitan Washington has a relatively high rate of transit usage relative to other metro areas in America. In fact the American Community Survey (ACS) shows that Washington D.C. has the second highest rate of transit usage (37.1 percent) in the U.S. behind New York City and that the District is tied with Boston as the city with the second-highest rate of overall non-auto transportation (about 50 percent of daily trips do not involve a car).

The region as a whole fares similarly: metropolitan Washington is tied with the San Francisco Bay area as having the second highest rate of transit usage (behind Greater New York) among the 100 largest metro regions in the country.

The stats from the ACS are promising especially when you look at the growth in transit usage in Washington from 2000-2009 (a 12 percent increase) but what does this look like on the ground? In which communities in the DC area is this increase in transit usage taking place? Is it being complemented by a growth in bicycling walking carpooling and other driving-alone alternatives? How are population growth and land-use decisions impacting transportation choices?

An upcoming survey by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) seeks to answer these and other questions. The FY 2012 Household Travel Survey will collect and analyze daily travel behavior for residents of metropolitan Washington. Data will be collected from nearly 5000 households in 14 geographic subareas of the region (in the District Suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia).

The most recent regional Household Travel Survey took place between 2007 and 2008 though the upcoming edition will be the first time the survey focuses on travel behavior by geographic subarea similar to information recently reported in Arlington County (the data were collected using the TPB survey instrument) . The TPB hopes that this unique data collection and analysis will eventually be conducted on an annual basis to supplement the ACS which will only report data for smaller communities every five years. Survey participants will be randomly selected and interviews will be conducted in the fall of 2011 and the spring of 2012.

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