Austin’s transit woes on national display

The 2017 American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau came out las week. One should be cautious when considering data from these annual mini-censuses, especially when it relates to a relatively small subset of the population, including a city or a subgroup within that city. The sample size is often extremely small. (The ACS five-year estimates are usually more reliable, at least for things that you wouldn’t expect to change significantly from one year to the next.)

Nationally, however, the ACS one-year estimates are pretty good. For instance, the national estimate for 2017 is that the percentage of U.S. residents commuting to work via public transit increased by 0.06%, while the percentage driving alone to worked dropped 0.17%. Progress comes slowly.

Across the country, most big cities saw a decline in the percentage of people driving alone to work. But there were a few notable exceptions. Can you spot them?

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Only LA saw a larger increase in solo drivers than Austin. Other cities that have seen increases include Fort Worth, Houston, Philly and San Diego. San Antonio basically was flat.

While I am wary of what are likely very high margins of error in this data set, all of these cities have struggled with declining transit ridership in the past couple years, and these numbers appear to reflect that.

For your general edification, here are the ACS 2012-16 five year estimates of commuting behavior in Austin and the Austin Metro Area. Note that the population size reflects adult workers, not the overall population.

Mode of commute:

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Length of commute:

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