Study: Half of Global Commutes Made by Car; Rates Vary Widely

The United States is conspicuously consistent in its high rates of car usage, a new analysis finds.

1 minute read

March 19, 2024, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Low shot of side of subway or commuter train and passengers walking on platform next to it.

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More than half of global commutes are now made by car, according to a new study from Complexity Science Hub. The study also highlights which parts of the world are most car-dependent and where public transit is most expansive.

The study examines close to 800 cities around the world. “Across regions, the percentage varies greatly, with almost 92% of journeys being made by automobile in cities in the US and Canada. The percentage of commutes by car in Northern and Southern European cities ranges from 50% to 75%.”

The article includes interactive visualizations of the data. The analysis shows that, while car ownership has grown, public transit accounts for a majority of commutes in many European and Asian cities, although rates vary widely.

“In contrast, the US exhibits minimal variation in modal share across cities of different sizes,” the researchers say. “As the study shows, in the United States and Canada, nearly 92% of commutes are made by car. Public transit makes up 4.6%, and active mobility makes up 3.5%.” New York City, unsurprisingly, has the highest transit mode share at 25 percent.

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