Most commuters travel alone by car, according to survey
January 16, 2016 12:00 AM
Marcus Thompson from East Pittsburgh boards the 69 Trafford at Stanwix and Fourth Avenue everyday on his way home from work.
By Diana Nelson Jones / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Results are in from the Make My Trip Count commuter survey, an effort aimed at finding out how people get around the area with an emphasis on Downtown and Oakland, which found that the greatest number of trips are by people driving alone.
Mayor Bill Peduto, the Green Building Alliance and Envision Downtown initiated the survey late last summer to discern how people move about and their attitudes about transportation modes. The survey was intended for use in planning and development, transportation and infrastructure decisions and drew more than 20,000 responses.
The survey found that the people driving alone in their cars made up the greatest number of trips by commuters at 46.7 percent. The next-highest mode of transportation was by bus, at 25.7 percent, and light rail, 5.4 percent.
Aurora Sharrard, executive director of the Green Building Alliance, said trips not made by solo drivers will most guide transportation decisions, such as where more bike lanes are most needed and where the next light rail development should be.
The percentages are based on numbers of trips, not commuters themselves. And although Downtown and Oakland are the focus areas in this initial report, the totals are based on commutes throughout the county.
The survey sprang from the Green Building Alliance’s initiative to enroll Pittsburgh in the national 2030 District movement of cities that are committing to 50 percent reductions in energy and water use and transportation emissions over the next 15 years.
One trip could include several modes, and in fact 34 percent of all trips were reported as multi-modal. An example might be taking an incline with a bike from Mount Washington and getting on a bus then biking after disembarking.
Commuters to Oakland show a much larger percentage of trips on foot and by bike -- about 13 percent combined -- compared to Downtown, 5 percent combined.
“What we found is the people who are commuting to Oakland in general live close to Oakland while Downtown pulls from a larger region,” she said. “We‘re going to be digging into that data as we set transportation priorities for the region.”
Pittsburgh has emerged as one of the fastest-growing bike commute cities -- 361 percent growth since 2000. Cycling still accounts for just 4.2 percent of commutes. Walkers make up 4.3 percent of commutes; 25.7 percent are by bus and 5.4 percent by light rail.
The largest number of respondents work in the education, health care, finance and insurance industries.
The strongest participation came from women, 63 percent, and the largest single age group was 25-34, 26.4 percent.
Isaac Smith, building performance analyst for GBA, said some of the data shows miles traveled per year by bicycles and pedestrians at 1.5 million.
This report is “the tip of the iceberg” of data the survey collected, and the Green Building Alliance’s transportation-oriented partners -- 12 in all -- will be parsing the information in ways tailored to their individual missions.
The Pittsburgh Foundation granted $40,000 toward the study, with each partner agency -- which included Bike Pittsburgh, the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission, the Group Against Smog and Pollution, the Allegheny County Port Authority and the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group -- ponied up with various amounts.
Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post=gazette.com or 412-263-1626.
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