The roadway congestion we experience in our region is largely driven by our commuting decisions, such as how we commute, when we commute, and where we commute. This article will look at how we commute in Hampton Roads.
The U.S. Census Bureau, through the decennial Census and annually through the American Community Survey, collects data that assists communities and federal officials with their planning efforts. Among the information that the Census Bureau collects is commuting data, including the transportation modes that people throughout the United States use to commute to work.
According to this data collected by the Census Bureau, over 82% of all commuters in Hampton Roads drove alone to work in 2009. This percentage of solo commuters has increased in our region throughout the years, from about 60% in 1980 up to 73% in 1990 and up to 79% in 2000 before increasing again throughout the 2000s. In raw numbers, this means that there were 160,000 more commuters that drove alone to work in Hampton Roads in 2009 than there were in 1990, which is more than the entire population of the city of Hampton.
The percentage of commuters that drive alone to work is higher in Hampton Roads than in many other areas. Among the 35 comparable metropolitan areas throughout the country with a population between one and three million people, Hampton Roads had the 7th highest percentage of commuters that drove alone to work in 2009.
The increase in driving to work alone has resulted in other forms of commuting including, carpooling, using public transportation, bicycling and walking, or working from home. According to the Census Bureau, just 8.9% of all Hampton Roads commuters carpooled in 2009, 2.4% bicycled or walked, 1.4% used public transportation, and 3.4% worked from home. All of these percentages have decreased from the levels seen in Hampton Roads in 1990, and among these alternative commuting modes only the percentage of residents working at home increased between 2000 and 2009.
This increase in commuters driving to work alone in Hampton Roads puts additional strain on our regional roadway network and contributes to the additional roadway congestion our region is experiencing. The next article in this series will look at when we commute and how that impacts congestion in our region.