June 14, 2007

Carpools Rejected

Both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press both have recently published similar findings about Twin Cities communters- they are most likely to travel alone to work. Each paper cited the U.S. Census Bureau which found that "Midwestern drivers are the least likely car poolers." Why aren't there more transit users and carpoolers if gas prices are so expensive ?

The Pioneer Press provided a slightly longer story and more explanation for these statistics than the Star Tribune. In the Pioneer Press's article Steve Dornfeld, Metropolitan Council public affairs director explains "We've got a lot of families with two employed spouses probably driving alone and in two different directions." He also points out most of the recent job growth has taken place in the suburbs and that people are "almost forced to commute by car." The Pioneer Press also mentions that despite the comparatively lower share of car pools, the Twin Cities area is experiencing growth - about 4 percent this year.

Each paper also highlighted different numbers from this census. The Star Tribune mentioned these facts:
In 2005, nearly nine out of 10 workers across the country drove to work, and 77 percent of them commuted alone, according to the Census Bureau's new American Community Survey. That year, transit use increased by only 0.1 percent. As for the Twin Cities, the Star Tribune noted Ihat in 2006, transit use in the Twin Cities rose 6 percent mainly as a result of higher gas prices according to Met ropolitan Council research manager Todd Graham. That's a shift of about 7,500 workers from cars to transit, a number that's half of 1 percent of the total number of people driving, he said. When you put it that way, it doesn't sound like very impressive numbers.

It doesn't seem difficult to be objective when telling this story as the numbers are coming straight from the census. However, it is interesting to see what statistics each paper thinks is more significant. It is also interesting to see the reasons behind the statistics. Both papers seem to conclude that the numbers of carpoolers and transit users are increasing, but very slowly. Will these numbers impact people's commuting habits at all? Maybe we'll see it in the next census.

As my blogging skills are still in progress, these are the links to the stories.
Pioneer Press: http://www.twincities.com/ci_6134882
Star Tribune: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1244623.html