By Micheline Maynard
It’s well established that Americans are driving less, and taking shorter trips when they get behind the wheel. Some people have given up driving completely.
But the vast majority of people who are still driving appear to be driving alone.
The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2012, about 76 percent of workers 16 years and older drove to work alone—just shy of the all-time peak of 77 percent in 2005, according to data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Here’s some more data. According to the Census Bureau, carpooling has fallen from about 20 percent of commutes in 1980 to under 10 percent in 2012. Public transportation accounted for just over six percent of daily commutes in 1980 and is now five percent. A category the Census Bureau calls “other means”—which includes biking—stands at two percent, largely unchanged over the past decade.
Those commuting trends seem a little puzzling, since there’s plenty of evidence that public transportation is seeing record demand. However, one development might help explain some of these shifts. Continue reading
Our latest student-written story comes from John Owens, a political science student at Tulane University in New Orleans.
By John Owens
Streetcars are as much a part of New Orleans as beignets, Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Saints. Rolling down the most well-known streets in the city, the unmistakable whir of their electric power and sound of the old-fashioned suspension fills the air for blocks around. The wooden seats hark back to a time when craftsmanship ruled over mass-production. Streetcars are an institution here.
Recently, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has poured millions into revitalizing the aging rails that underpin the system. It tore up track bit by bit, starting before the 2013 Super Bowl and continuing through now. It is the kind of investment that implies a commitment to a long future with the streetcar in New Orleans.
In the run up to the Super Bowl, the RTA even added a 2.8 mile spur with 13 stops. It took less than a year to complete, an unusually quick project by New Orleans standards.
With streetcars running down more streets and on better tracks, it begs the question: are streetcars a viable transit solution, a tourist attraction or both? Continue reading