The Cost of Driving Increasingly Out of Reach in the U.S.

New research stresses the importance of socioeconomic differences in U.S. transportation trends.

2 minute read

March 27, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Research published by the Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment reveals mobility trends in the United States that indicate a growing transportation gap to coincide with the nation’s growing wealth in equality.

The study, authored by Xize Wang from the National University of Singapore and John L. Renne from Florida Atlantic University, used data from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) to compare urban travel trends to previous surveys.

“The most noticeable trend for the 2017 NHTS is that although private automobiles continue to be the dominant travel mode in American cities, the share of car trips has slightly and steadily decreased since its peak in 2001,” according to the abstract from the study. “In contrast, the share of transit, non-motorized, and taxicab (including ride-hailing) trips has steadily increased.” 

An article by Matthew Rozsa for Salon draws an angle unavailable in the study’s abstract from the conclusions of the study: “one's ability to access a car depends on many factors beyond a person's control,” writes Rozsa. “Foremost among them? Wealth.”

Renne is quoted in the article explaining that low-income residents of the United States are increasingly “cut off from job opportunities, schools, and other services” in locations without high quality transit service and safe walking and biking facilities.

“In addition to worsening income inequality, the American transportation gap has widened due to factors unique in the history of the early 21st century — in particular, the onset of the Great Recession in 2008 and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which exacerbated economic hardships,” writes Rozsa.

Sunday, March 19, 2023 in Salon

Black and white Rideshare Pick-Up Zone sign

The Slow Death of Ride Sharing

From the beginning, TNCs like Lyft and Uber touted shared rides as their key product. Now, Lyft is ending the practice.

June 1, 2023 - Human Transit

Urban sidewalk shaded by large mature trees

Cool Walkability Planning

Shadeways (covered sidewalks) and pedways (enclosed, climate controlled walkways) can provide comfortable walkability in hot climates. The Cool Walkshed Index can help plan these facilities.

June 1, 2023 - Todd Litman

Traffic on the 405 interstate freeway through the Sepulveda Pass at Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California

Congestion Pricing Could Be Coming to L.A.

The infamously car-centric city is weighing a proposed congestion pricing pilot program to reduce traffic and encourage public transit use.

May 30, 2023 - Los Angeles Times

"Welcome to Texas" road sign with Texas flag and "Drive Friendly - the Texas way" slogan

Report: Austin’s State Roads Deadlier Than City Roads

Traffic fatalities and serious injuries grew on state-owned roads in the Texas capital, even as city-owned streets saw death rates plateau.

41 minutes ago - Smart Cities Dive

View from lakeside with green grass and pink blooming flowers

Who Benefits Most from Land Conservation Efforts?

A new study estimates that recent land conservation generated $9.8 billion in wealth nationally through the housing market and that wealthier and White households benefited disproportionately.

1 hour ago - PNAS

Close-up of black parking meter with blurred street in background

Richmond Repeals Parking Minimums, Encourages Off-Street Parking and Transit

The Virginia city is replete with underused off-street parking lots, which city councilors hope to make available for parking at more times while encouraging transit use.

2 hours ago - Next City

Project Manager III

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

UDO Transportation Planner

City of Charlotte - Charlotte Area Transit

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.