Survey Says: Californians are Walking, Biking, and Taking Transit More

Results are in from the California Household Travel Survey and they look good for alternative transportation—use has doubled since 2000. The survey also says a lot about the surveyor—Caltrans, long known for counting only vehicle trips.
March 12, 2014, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"While Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) has, for decades, focused on building more roadways, department spokesman Mark Dinger said things are changing," writes Sarah Rohrs.

The old Caltrans would just look at what we can do to improve travel for people in cars and trucks. Now we are actively including ways to accommodate more bicycle and pedestrian uses, and building park-and-ride lots so people can carpool," Dinger said.

From the FAQ of the California Household Travel Survey: "The CHTS is an in-depth study of the state's household travel and activity patterns. The California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, and its partner agencies [eighteen Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and other state agencies, including the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission], will be asking more than 60,000 households to identify where and how they traveled on a specific, designated travel day (24 hours)."

Rohrs writes, "Surveyors picked households and had each member of the family track their typical travel days by recording uses in a diary. What they found is that 23 percent of the household trips were made without a vehicle -- by walking, biking and public transportation."

The survey results appear to be consistent with the findings of the American Public Transportation Association (posted here) showing a 37% increase in transit usage since 1995.

The data will be used to forecast future highway and travel demands, greenhouse gas emissions, and what can be done to improve alternative transit uses for state residents, Dinger said.

Dinger seems to be reflecting the findings of last month's State Smart Transportation Initiative report on Caltrans. The survey results only emphasize the need for Caltrans to think beyond its traditional roads and congestion base and enter the "modern, post-Interstate building era", as the report states it its executive summary [PDF].

California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly, whose agency includes Caltrans and who commissioned the above report, indicated as much in a press release:

“This increasing interest in many transportation choices is another reason why we are on the path to more sustainability in California,” said Kelly. “Caltrans will continue improving the state’s transportation system to help ensure Californians have many viable choices for how to travel.”

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 in Napa-Solano Times-Herald
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