Missing Persons was wrong: Someone’s walking in LA

Here’s a confession: Before I moved to LA I didn’t drive. I bought a car and learned to drive because everyone said–and I have always believed–you cannot live happily in this city as a non-driver. So how surprised was I to learn that LA is above the national average for public transportation use. The US Census Bureau just released a data set that breaks down how people get to work city-by-city. (It’s true: I am enough of a complete geek that I subscribe the US Census’ feed. So sue me.)

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/07/commute-hi-thumb.jpgWhile I wasn’t surprised to read that “about half of the nation’s public transportation commuters can be found in 10 of the nation’s 50 cities with the most workers age 16 or over,” I didn’t expect to see LA on that list. Shows what I know. On average 4.7% of United Statians take public transportation to work, while 10.3 of Los Angelenos do. We rate higher than average on carpooling (11.7% versus 10.7% nationally), bicycling (.6% versus .4% nationally), working from home (4.7% compared to 3.6%), and even walking to work (3.2% in our fair city, 2.5% in the country as a whole). I know living in Encino and working in Chatsworth, as I do, does not exactly grant one an accurate lens through which to view the city as a whole, but still….I’m pretty blown away by the fact that LA is above the mean in every category. I don’t know whether to be proud of LA or distressed about the country as a whole.

6 Replies to “Missing Persons was wrong: Someone’s walking in LA”

  1. any idea what “other means” of transportation 0.9% of americans are using? could there be that many executives taking private limos and helicopters?

  2. Unless they’re comparing comparable population centers, the numbers are likely to be flawed. There are large parts of the country where public transit is so sparse as to be effectively non-existant. I would imagine, for example, that there aren’t a lot of people in Needles taking the bus to work. Even in the L.A. area, if you take out all the non-L.A.-city parts of the nearly-uninterrupted sprawl of homes, businesses and mini-malls that make up the greater Los Angeles area, you’ll get a different picture of transit usage than you would otherwise.

  3. According to those charts, only 10% of Angelenos of working age use public transportation to get to work, and ranks #14 out of 50 cities surveyed. Which isn’t terribly spectacular.

    But sheer numbers of people who use public transpo, there are a lot here in Los Angeles… but Don is right about the big picture.

    Interesting data nonetheless.

  4. Yes, I have lived in flyover territory, and I well know that most people in Kaukauna, Wisconsin aren’t walking or bussing to work. Nonetheless, even an unspectacular #14 is better than I thought LA would rank. And Josh, I can only speculate about “other means”–hang gliding? horseback? (I’ll bet some of the Needles folks ride horses to work.)

  5. First, everyone’s saying that the commute via bus is low, but remember, commuting is only one type of customer for public transportation.

    I’m also not sure how they handle “combo” travel. Like drive to the train.

    As for the “other” mode, I think car services may explain it. I notice they’re used a bit in the entertainment industry for actors. (I’m surprised motorcycle is so low.)

    Maybe other includes: wheelchairs, skateboards, scooters, skipping, trikes, rollerblades.

  6. “Nobody walks in L.A.” is such crap. I’ve never seen so many pedestrians in my life.

    Nobody walks in Boca Raton, baby. THAT’S the truth.

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