Transportation Choice

Desired Trend

Up

Current Trend

Steady
Baseline (2010): 16.2%
Current (2015): 15.9%

Theme Connected

Definition

Total percent of workers commuting via walking, biking, transit, rideshare, or who work from home. 

Why is it Important?

An increase in transportation choice means that people of all abilities and income levels have greater access to destinations.1 Personal vehicles offer flexibility, but they are expensive and have many external costs for society including pollution, infrastructure maintenance, and congestion. In addition, personal vehicles are not feasible options for people who cannot drive, such as some elderly or disabled residents, or for people who cannot afford a car. Active modes of transportation including walking and bicycling are sustainable because they provide cardiovascular exercise, have little to no cost, and are pollution-free. Rideshare and transit are also sustainable options because they emit less pollution than travel by single occupancy vehicles and are more affordable. Due to data availability, this indicator focuses solely on commute to work trips. The focus on commute trips is apt because they commonly coincide with peak traffic congestion, meaning that improvements in this indicator will likely signify greater reductions in congestion and pollution.

How are we Doing?

In the St. Louis region, the percentage of workers commuting via walking, bicycling, transit, rideshare, or who worked from home did not significantly change between the baseline year 2010 and 2015. At both time points about 16 percent of commuters chose these modes. In 2000, the percentage was a little higher, at about 17.7 percent. 

For the most part, the proportion of commuters choosing each mode was about the same in 2015 as it was in 2000. During this time, the proportion of workers driving alone to work fluctuated in line with changes in the overall economy, but 2015 levels are essentially the same as they were in 2000. In 2000, 82.6 percent of commuters drove alone, compared with 83.2 percent of commuters in 2015. The percentage of commuters using public transit, walking, and biking all held fairly steady, at about 2.5, 1.7, and 0.2 percent, respectively.

For carpooling and telecommuting, there were some notable changes. In 2015, 7.1 percent of commuters carpooled, down from 9.9 percent in 2000.  The percentage of workers who work from home steadily increased from 2.8 percent in 2000 to 4.3 percent in 2015.

There are some interesting similarities and differences in commuting patterns of people of different races in the region.

Most commuters from all racial groups drive to work alone—85 percent of white commuters, 77 percent of Asian commuters, 75 percent of black commuters, and 71 percent of Hispanic or Latino commuters. However, a relatively high proportion of Asian and Hispanic or Latino commuters carpool (12 and 16 percent, respectively) or walk (5 and 6 percent respectively). By comparison, less than 8 percent of black or white commuters carpool, and less than 2 percent walk. But, black commuters are the most likely to take public transportation with 12 percent of black commuters choosing transit compared to 1 percent of whites, 1 percent of Asians, and 3 percent of Hispanic or Latino commuters.

Black workers also comprise a relatively large proportion of public transportation commuters in the region. In 2015, 69.5 percent of all commuters using public transportation were black, although black workers represented just 15.7 percent the total working population. Comparatively, white commuters represented 26.1 percent of public transportation commuters, but 81.4 percent of the total working population.

Transportation Choice in the St. Louis region is not as high as in most of the peer regions. In 2015, the St. Louis MSA ranked 46th among the 50 largest metropolitan regions. The percent of workers commuting via walking, biking, transit, rideshare, or who work from home in the St. Louis region (15.9 percent) is more than six percentage points below the average for the United States (22.2 percent).

Transportation Choice St. Louis

Geographic Level

St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). View map.

Notes

1This indicator is a HUD Flagship Sustainability Indicator. The Flagship Indicators were created for the Sustainable Community Initiative in an effort to develop a common national framework for measuring long-term progress toward sustainable communities.

2Data for all years was adjusted to the current 15-county MSA boundary for the St. Louis MSA.

Data Sources

Decennial Census and American Community Survey, United States Census Bureau