Friday, March 21, 2014

Not carless 'burgh

Reading this story on carless households in the Wall Street Journal yesterday: Detroit's Broken Buses Vex a Broke City - Bankruptcy Means Cold Waits, Hot Tempers for Residents in Need of a Ride

My obvious compulsions forced me to look up comparable data for the city of Pittsburgh on carless households.  Unlike most of the cities cited in the WSJ article, the city of Pittsburgh appears to have had a decrease both in the total number of carless households, and also in the proportion of total households that are carless.  Goes against a lot of narratives I suppose, but what I compile from two years of data from the ACS:

Total households = 130,504
Carless households = 33,521
or 25.8%

Total households = 131,513
Carless households = 31,409
or 23.9%

Of course, the other counterintuitive factoid is that the household count is up.  Not by much, and probably not a significant difference.  The decrease in carless households is just a bit more than the margin or error and probably should not be written off. Impact of Port Authority route cuts? Big story across the nation is how much transit ridership has been going up over the last several years.  Here?


Anonymous MH said...

Wouldn't some non-trivial portion of that drop in carless households be due to the drop in the number of people over 65? Such individuals are often carless on medical/legal advice.

Friday, March 21, 2014 4:35:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...


My work here is done.

Friday, March 21, 2014 6:36:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...


My work here is done.

Friday, March 21, 2014 6:36:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

There may also be an income factor (higher-income households being more likely to own at least one car even in urban environments).

Saturday, March 22, 2014 7:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with BrianTH. I've looked at carless households before on bike-pgh's analysis of transit/walking/biking in major cities. Pittsburgh is more similar to cities like Boston or San Fran... where there are more people taking transit or walking to work than carless households. On the other end of the spectrum is Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, etc.... where there are more carless households than people taking transit/walking to work... very impoverished cities.

Saturday, March 22, 2014 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

but local bus ridership (which is mostly generated within city) is down? Only reason T ridership is up is the itinerant use of the NSC line.

I've put up our Pittsburgh bike/ped maps before... Not entirely, but much of those patterns are driven by proximity to schools.

Saturday, March 22, 2014 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

Even though ridership is down and riders are mostly generated in the city, I don't think you can safely assume that ridership is down in the city (except for routes directly replaced by the NSC). The service was actually increased on intra city routes.

Saturday, March 22, 2014 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Which all comes back to what could be done if PAT made available data they collect.

Sunday, March 23, 2014 8:20:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

Ceteris paribus, more households with at least one car probably does mean somewhat lower average annual transit trips per household. But it doesn't necessarily mean those households don't use transit at all, and as noted above, the combination of using transit for commuting and personal cars for a lot of off-peak trips is particularly common in higher-income cities.

And for what it is worth, we are a two-car household that still has both adults using the bus to commute to work. But we use a PXX route via the East Busway, and there is no knowing from the recently publicized data whether we are part of a growing or shrinking population (meaning people specifically using a Busway route).

Monday, March 24, 2014 5:52:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I doubt all the Ceterum are paribus. Those with cars are going to be more likely to be in prime working ages, wealthier, and just generally more active.

Monday, March 24, 2014 7:31:00 PM  

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