August 20, 2015
decade was a fantasyland-come-to-life for supporters of “smart growth.”
housing boom fizzled. Gasoline prices experienced significant spikes. Alarmism
over “climate change” infected the news media, academia, and popular culture.
Transit projects maintained their windfall of taxpayer-terrorizing enhancements
and expansions. And in states red, blue, and purple, fuel taxes were hiked.
these phenomena change our commuting habits?
Drives to Work? Commuting by Automobile in the United States: 2013” is
depressing reading for the car-hating club. Issued by the Census Bureau, the
analysis concludes that in “recent years, the percentage of workers who commute
by private vehicle remained relatively stable.”
to the office, store, or factory, McKenzie writes, “make up less than 20
percent of all trips taken, but play an important role within the mix of daily
travel by determining peak travel demand across transportation systems.” In
1980, driving alone to work was the norm for 64.4 percent of employees. The
figure rose to 73.2 percent in 1990 and 75.7 in 2000. In 2010, solo commuting
hit its peak, at 76.6 percent. Three years later, it had plunged to … 76.4 percent.
contrast, carpooling has been halved. It was the choice of nearly 20 percent of
commuters in 1980. In 2013, sharing a ride grabbed 9.4 percent of the work-trip
the Great Recession, there’s been a tiny uptick in ridership on government-run
trains and buses. (Mostly buses.) And bicycling, much to the consternation of
drivers victimized by two-wheelers who refuse to obey traffic laws, is rising a
bit. But the growth of working at home -- i.e., business owners and
telecommuters -- has been much stronger. On its way to nonexistence in the
early 1980s, punching a clock in pajamas climbed back to 4.4 percent in 2013.
the intensity of Americans’ preference for personal mobility, consider the
commutes of those who tell census-takers that they lack access to a private
vehicle “of 1-ton capacity or less.” Nearly 21 percent drive alone to work. How
can that be? A worker, McKenzie notes, might “use a company car, borrow another
person’s car, have a private driver, have a vehicle of more than 1-ton
capacity, or use a car-sharing program.”
country’s largest minority isn’t eschewing auto-mobility. In 2006, 65 percent of
Latino workers drove alone to their place of employment. Seven years later, the
portion rose to 69 percent. Carpooling’s share fell from 19 percent to 15
Millennials, in April, Bloomberg
reported that they “accounted for 27 percent of new car sales in the U.S.
last year, up from 18 percent in 2010 … . They’ve zoomed past Gen X to become
the second-largest group of new car buyers after their boomer parents.
Millennials are starting to find jobs and relocating to the suburbs and smaller
cities, where public transport is spotty.”
suburban nation, and becoming more so. Last year, reality-based land-use
scholar Wendell Cox explained
a truth that few planners allow themselves to accept: “Many American
cities, described commonly as urban cores, are functionally more suburban and
exurban, based on urban form, density, and travel behavior characteristics.”
ago, suburbs were bedroom communities. No more. Increasingly, inner- and
outer-ring ‘burbs are where the jobs are. When Cox asks audiences to “guess how
much of a metropolitan area’s employment” is concentrated in its central
business district, responses
“of 50 percent to 80 percent are not unusual.” The guesses are off -- way
off. For metro areas of more than 1 million residents, “the average is 7
percent … and reaches its peak at only 22 percent in New York.”
boomtowns have low population densities. Riding the rails or hopping a bus
presents plenty of challenges in Boston, Chicago, or San Francisco. In Houston,
Nashville, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, San Antonio,
Charlotte, Las Vegas, or Dallas-Ft. Worth, they are all-but-impossible options.
notes that “the rate of automobile commuting has stabilized in recent years
after decades of increase.” But trends that can’t go on forever tend not to,
and at this point, there is zero
evidence of a rush toward subways, bus rapid transit, and light-rail systems.
Such a shift would be, literally, un-American.
moonbats’ policies and all the moonbats’ propaganda can’t get Joe Sixpack and
Jane Latte out of their cars and into “public” transportation. It’s failure on
an epic scale. And it causes lovers of freedom and mobility to chuckle a bit,
when we don’t consider the price tag.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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