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Commuters Are Driving Alone Less, Taking Transit And Teleworking More

New survey shows commuting trends in the D.C. Region

Drive-alone commuting continues to decrease, while alternative modes of transportation, including transit and telework, are on the rise among commuters in the D.C. region, according to the new Commuter Connections’ 2019 State of the Commute Survey Report released today at the monthly meeting of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB).

Although driving alone continues to be the primary mode of commuting in the region, the percentage of commuters who drove alone decreased from 71 percent in 2004 to 58 percent in 2019, a 13 percentage point drop, according to the survey.

At the same time, transit use increased by seven percentage points from 17 percent in 2004 to 24 percent in 2019, the survey found. Of the transit trips, 18.2 percent were by train (16.6 percent Metrorail and 1.6 percent commuter rail) and the remaining 5.9 percent of transit trips were made by bus.

Similarly, the use of telework has nearly tripled since 2004. More than one-third (35 percent) of regional commuters said they teleworked at least occasionally. In 2019, more than one million regional workers teleworked. Even with this growth, the potential exists for an additional 771,000 people to telework, according to the survey.  

“Growth in and regional improvements to different commuting options like transit and teleworking are allowing more residents in the D.C. region to leave their cars at home,” said Nicholas Ramfos, Commuter Connections Director. “Commuter Connections provides information about transit, bicycling, telecommuting, and carpooling as well as offers services such as ridematching for carpools and the Guaranteed Ride Home program to help commuters get home in an emergency. All of these options help commuters make a decision to not drive solo.”

“The Transportation Planning Board is focused on moving more people, and not necessarily more cars,” said TPB Chairman and Prince William County Supervisor Martin Nohe. “It is a step in the right direction to see the decline in solo driving, and we need to continue to work together as a region to promote transportation alternatives, such as taking transit, bicycling, walking, carpooling, and teleworking, to get more cars off the road and reduce congestion.”

The Commuter Connections’ State of the Commute Survey, which is conducted every three years, looks at trends in commuting modes (driving, carpooling, taking transit, ridehailing, teleworking, bicycling, and walking), as well as commute distance and time, and attitudes about commuting and transportation options. For the data collection, 8,246 randomly selected employed residents of the metropolitan Washington region were surveyed.

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