Most commuters prefer going it alone, census shows

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

FREDERICK, Md. -- Americans love to go it alone, at least when it comes to driving to work.

Figures from the 2000 census show about 76 percent of workers 16 and older drive alone to their jobs, up from 64 percent two decades earlier and 73 percent in 1990, even though commutes are taking longer.

For many, a long commute is a necessity, the price for larger and more affordable homes in the suburbs. And it's the result of congested highways choked by the urban sprawl that has turned many suburbs and even rural areas into burgeoning communities and business centers.

Stacy Brown said traffic has gotten worse in the four years since she started driving 25 miles from Frederick, Md., to her job as a receptionist in Rockville, Md., just north of Washington. Still, she prefers driving.

"I'd rather sit in my car alone in air conditioning in traffic than wait for a train on a hot platform," Brown said before pulling away from a gas station where she fueled up for the morning commute.

Alan Pisarski, a former deputy director of planning for the Department of Transportation who researches commuting trends, said as more people own homes, they face longer drives to work.

"There's a trade off with the mortgage and commuting time," he said.

The Census Bureau asked people their "usual" mode of transportation to work. So, for example, someone who drives to a train stop would have to choose one or the other as the primary way to work.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: