Of the approximately 6.4 million people nationwide who usually travel to work using public transportation, nearly one-third live in New York City, according to a new analysis of American Community Survey data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

New York is the only city where the majority of workers – 55 percent, or 1.9 million people – commute from home to work via public transportation. That is by far the highest percentage among the nation’s largest cities.

Among other large cities (250,000 population or more), the highest public transportation rates are in Washington, D.C. (37 percent); Boston and San Francisco (31 percent each); Chicago and Philadelphia (27 percent each); Newark, N.J. (26 percent); and Baltimore (25 percent). Only 1-in-8 workers (12 percent) in Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest city, use public transportation, and in Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, only 6 percent of workers use public transportation.

Overall, only 5 percent of the nation’s 128.6 million workers use public transportation to get to work.

Referring to the analysis, Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon said, “Transportation planners can use the new American Community Survey to track trends in commuting patterns. Having updated information every year instead of every 10 years will allow them to make more informed decisions about transportation resources and options.”

Driven by New York City’s dominance, New York State led all states in the percentage of its public transportation commuters.

Statewide, 27 percent of New York workers used public transportation. Other states above the national average were: New Jersey (10 percent), Maryland (9 percent), Massachusetts (9 percent), Illinois (9 percent) and Hawaii (6 percent).

Of the 231 counties for which data are available, four New York City boroughs – Manhattan (New York County) (61 percent), Bronx (60 percent), Brooklyn (Kings County) (58 percent) and Queens (51 percent) – had the highest percentages of public transportation commuters by far. Other counties in the New York metropolitan area with high public transportation rates were Richmond County (Staten Island) (33 percent) and Hudson County, N.J. (31 percent). Counties in other areas with high rates of public transportation use include San Francisco County, Calif. (31 percent) and Suffolk County, Mass. (30 percent).

Nationwide, 77 percent of workers drove alone to work, 10 percent carpooled and 2 percent walked.

Bus transportation accounted for 55 percent of public transportation use nationally; subway or elevated rail use ranked second at 29 percent.

The American Community Survey findings are based on responses from a sample of households interviewed in 2002.


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