This is something I noticed recently driving up Highway 50 during the height of the rush hour to a family dinner. My wife and I were in the car pool lane, virtually alone, as we sped past the thousands of cars winging it at about 10 miles an hour, and we never had to slow down until we moved over to our exit lane.
New Geography writes about the surprise results from a recent study.
“Despite higher prices and huge media hype over shifts to public transit, the big surprise out of the 2010 American Community Survey has been the continued growth over the last decade in driving alone to work. Between 2000 and 2010, driving alone to work increased by 7.8 million out of a total of an 8.7 million increase in total jobs. As a result, this use of this mode reached 76.5% of the nation's workers, up from 75.6% in 2000. This is the largest decadal share of commuting ever achieved for this mode of transport.
“In view of the much higher gasoline prices that prevailed in 2010, it might have been expected that driving alone would lose market share from 2000. But this did not --- despite many media and academic claims that would or was already taking place --- occur.
“The Census Bureau began compiling data on commuting in the 1960 census. In each census through 2000, commuting data was obtained through the census "long form" questionnaire. During the last decade, however, the Census Bureau has begun an annual survey, the American Community Survey, which includes commuting data and a considerable amount of additional data, and the decennial census survey was discontinued.
“Cars Dominate: There have been substantial changes in how the nation travels since the first survey in 1960. In 1960, 64% of the nation's workers traveled by car. Separate data was not obtained for driving alone and carpools until 1980. The 2010 data indicates that 86.2% of employees used cars for the work trip in 2010. This was a slight reduction from 87.9% in 2000. But the anti-automobile crowd should not celebrate; all of the loss was due to a substantial decline in carpooling. In 2000, 12.2% of workers traveled by car pool. This figure dropped to 9.7% in 2010. With the higher gas prices, it might have been expected that carpooling would have become more popular, because of the lower costs from sharing experiences with other workers. This simply did not occur.
“Working at Home: The big winner among the nation's commuting modes was working at home, a large share of which is telecommuting. Working at home increased from 3.3% of the workforce in 2000 to 4.3% of the workforce in 2010, for a market share increase of 33%, Overall 1.7 million more people work at home in 2010 than in 2000. It seems likely that the high gas prices encouraged a more working at home as did the move by companies to offload work to freelancers to reduce their costs or boost efficiency. Over the decade, gas prices increased 46%, adjusted for inflation, while the work at home market share increased 33%.”