Carpooling and mass transit decline; number of solo commuters on the rise

TrafficCalWatchDog-If you drive to work alone then you are not, well — alone — in a manner of speaking. It seems that single use occupant vehicles have increased as a percentage of the commuter population while other more communal modes of transportation use have generally stagnated over the last three-plus decades.

A report issued by the California Center for Jobs & the Economy, sponsored by the California Business Roundtable, using numbers from the census and the American Community Survey, indicates that despite efforts to change attitudes about transportation the old stereotype holds true – Californians love their cars.

“The substantial investments in public transit, bike lanes and other alternative modes have not produced major gains in commuter use,” the report stated.

“Combined, public transit, carpooling and ‘other’ modes dropped from 30.3 percent of total commuters in 1980 to 21.5 percent in 2013 and to 21.1 percent in 2014. In total numbers, use of these three modes increased only 430,000 workers by 2014, while use of single occupant vehicles increased by 5.5 million workers.”

More cars on the road means those roads take a beating, which has led Gov. Jerry Brown to call a special session to deal with funding to fix the roads. While Brown wants tax increases to fix the roads, Republicans in the Legislature are seeking to make sure that money collected for transportation purposes is spent on the roads and not siphoned off for other purposes.

Yesterday, Assemblyman Mathew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, introduced a bill that would give the voters a say in whether gas taxes are increased for the roads. Harking back to the governor’s pledge, made when he began his third term, to seek a vote of the people before taxes are raised, Harper said in a release, “I am proposing we do exactly the same thing here. Letting the people decide what they think about new taxes before we force new taxes upon them is not a revolutionary idea.”

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