Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar
Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon
How Lower Income Citizens Commute
One of the most frequently recurring justifications for densification policies (smart
growth, growth management, livability, etc.) lies with the assumption that the automobile-based
mobility system (Note 1) disadvantages lower income citizens. Much of the solution,
according to advocates of densification is to discourage driving and orient both
urbanization and the urban transportation system toward transit as well as walking
Of course, there is no question but that lower income citizens are disadvantaged
with respect to just about everything economic. However, there are few ways in which
lower income citizens are more disadvantaged than in their practical access to work
and to amenities by means of transit, walking and cycling. Indeed, the impression
that lower income citizens rely on transit to a significantly greater degree than
everyone else is just that – an impression.
The Data: This is illustrated by a compilation of work trip data from the five-year
American Community Survey for 2006 to 2010. In the nation's 51 major metropolitan
areas (more than 1,000,000 population), 76.3% of lower income employees use cars
to get to work, three times that of all other modes combined (Figure 1).
Admittedly, this is less than the 83.3% of all employees who use cars for the work
trip, but a lot more than would be expected, especially among those who believe that
transit is the principal means of mobility for low income citizens. Overall, 8 times
as many lower income citizens commuted by car as by transit. In this analysis, lower
income citizens are defined as employees who earn less than $15,000 per year, which
is approximately one-half of the median earnings per employee of $29,701. .
Perhaps most surprising is the fact that only 9.6% of lower income citizens used
transit to get to work. This is not very much higher than the 7.9% of all workers
in the metropolitan areas who use transit. (Table 1).