Transportation Choice

Desired Trend

Up

Current Trend

Steady
Baseline (2010): 16.2%
Current (2019): 15.8%

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 2019. At both time points about 16 percent of commuters chose these modes.

For the most part, the proportion of commuters choosing each non-sov mode decreased slightly, from 2010 to 2019, but the percentage of workers who are forgoing the commute all together has increased. The result is that the percentage of workers who drove alone was about the same, 83 percent, in both 2010 and 2019 with some fluctuations that were in line with changes in the overall economy over the time period. The most substantial change among non-sov modes was an increase of workers who worked from home going from 3.7 percent of workers in 2010 to 5.1 percent in 2019. The other statistically significant changes were the percentage of workers carpooling declined from 7.7 percent in 2010 to 7.1 percent in 2019, and those taking public transportation declined from 2.6 percent to 1.8 percent. Those walking to work was a little less than 2 percent of workers in both time periods, and those biking to work was minimal, about 0.2 percent in both time periods.

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—85.2 percent of white commuters, 77.8 percent of Asian commuters, 77.0 percent of black commuters, and 72.4 percent of Hispanic or Latino commuters. However, a relatively high proportion of Hispanic or Latino commuters carpool (16.4 percent). By comparison, less than 11 percent of black, Asian, and white commuters carpool (9.3, 10.9, AND 6.1 percent, respectively). Black commuters are the most likely to take public transportation with 6.5 percent of black commuting via transit compared to less than 1 percent of whites, 2.7 percent of Asians, and 2.3 percent of Hispanic or Latino commuters.

Transportation Choice in the St. Louis region is not as high as in most of the peer regions. In 2019, 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 (15.8 percent) is almost seven percentage points below the average for the United States (22.7 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