Behind the morning and evening routines of Pa. commuters.
Recently, PublicSource’s Natasha Khan published a fun piece looking at all sorts of random Census facts about Pittsburgh; for example, the median age for the city is 33, the average commute takes 24 minutes, and that only 65 percent of Pittsburghers drove — either alone or in a carpool — to work everyday.
The last number caught my eye, since Pittsburgh is the second largest city in the state — and still, two-thirds of city residents are driving to work. It made me want to look, a little more deeply, about how the rest of the state gets to the office.
Above, I’ve mapped American Community Survey data from 2009 to 2014 for all the Census tracts in the state of Pennsylvania. Darker colors signify higher percentages of people commuting by car, while lighter colors mean that residents in those tracts are more likely to take the bus, bike, or walk.
It’s no surprise that urban areas feature less drivers, but the disparity is pretty amazing. If you look at Census Tract 5 — better known as the area that includes Philadelphia City Hall — more than 54 percent of commuters walk to work. Another 22 percent take public transit, while fewer than 18 percent drive. In Census Tract 9602 in rural Cameron County, meanwhile, 93 percent of workers drive to work.
After putting this together, I’m left wondering: Readers, how do you like your commute? Do you make your travel choice based on time or money? Or are you limited to one choice based on your circumstances — financial, geographic, a lack of access, or other responsibilities?
A final note: These are five-year averages of Census survey data, so they’re not great at capturing the changing nature of commuting. If you had data for just 2016, for example, you’d most likely see a higher percentage of people biking, as cities and towns improve their bicycling infrastructure.