Home-to-Work Trips Modes, United States, 1985-2022

Home to Work Trips Modes United States 1985 2022

Source: US Census, American Community Survey, Commuting Characteristics.

Surveys of people’s mobility revealed that the automobile accounts for the large majority of commuting trips in the United States, around 75%. In contrast, public transit only accounted for a long-term average of 5% of commuting trips, which can be perceived as marginal. The modal distribution of commuting in the United States is showing remarkable stability with no significant changes in a period of about 25 years. The most significant change is within the usage of the automobile as a carpool, which has experienced a slight decline to the advantage of driving alone. This obviously reflects higher levels of car ownership.

The COVID-19 pandemic represented a paradigm shift in mobility, with a substantial increase in the share of work-from-home (trip substitution) associated with lockdowns and adaptation of segments of the service sector, particularly education and management. Mass transit and carpooling experience a substantial decline, particularly because of epidemiological concerns. Figures for 2022 underline that commuting patterns have, to some extent, reverted back to their historical trend, but with a higher share of work-from-home substituted trips. This represents a new dimension for commuting as working from home will likely remain around 15%. This has an impact on commuting transport demand as well as office footprint.