Report Shows Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport-Stamford Residents Driving Less, Using Transit and Alternatives More

Media Contacts
Evan Preston

Connecticut Reduction in Car Commuting Among Nation’s Largest

ConnPIRG Education Fund

Hartford – A first-of-its-kind report by ConnPIRG Education Fund shows reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in Connecticut’s urbanized areas—including the Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport-Stamford areas —and greater use of public transit and biking. 

In Bridgeport and other cities in Connecticut, the data shows that efforts to makes our cities more multimodal are working.  “Through our BGreen 2020 sustainability initiative to create jobs, save taxpayers money and fight climate change, Bridgeport is committed to efforts to increase public transit, biking and walking,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “The City is moving forward with a complete streets policy, to make our streets more accessible for all forms of transportation, not just cars. Additionally, we’re currently working very hard to bring a second train station to our city, creating more transit-oriented development and economic growth to the East Side and East End of our city.” 

“There is a shift away from driving in our cities here in Connecticut and across the country,” said Sean Doyle, for the ConnPIRG Education Fund. “Policy makers need to wake up and realize the driving boom is over. Based on these national and local trends, we should be investing in public transit and biking for the future.”

The report, “Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities,” is based on the most current available government data. It is the first ever national study to compare transportation trends for America’s largest cities. Among its findings:                                           

  • The proportion of workers commuting by private vehicle—either alone or in a carpool—declined in 99 out of 100 of America’s most populous urbanized areas between 2000 and the 2007-2011 period.
  • In the Stamford-Bridgeport urbanized area, there was a 5.5 percent decrease in vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) per capita from 2006 to 2011. In New Haven, driving miles per capita decreased by 3.8 percent and in Hartford there was a 2.2 percent decrease.
  • The percent of workers commuting by private vehicle in the Bridgeport-Stamford urbanized area fell 2.9 percent between 2000 and the 2007 to 2011 period.  New Haven saw a 2.6 percent drop—the 15th and 20th largest reductions, respectively out of the 100 largest urbanized areas in the U.S.  Hartford came in 37th with a 1.9 percent decrease.
  • The number of passenger miles travelled on transit per capita increased 8.6 percent in Bridgeport-Stamford between 2005 and 2010. In New Haven, transit passenger miles per person increased by 14.2 percent.  Measured in terms of the number of trips taken on public transit per-capita, Bridgeport-Stamford witnessed a 6.2 percent increase from 2005 to 2010.   In New Haven, there was a 6.8% increase in number of public transit trips taken per-capita.
  • The proportion of commuters travelling by bicycle grew in both New Haven and Hartford, as it did in 85 of the most populous 100 urbanized areas between 2000 and 2010. In New Haven the increase was 0.3 percent, one of the ten steepest in the nation, ranking 10th.  Bridgeport saw neither an increase nor decrease.
  • The proportion of households without a car increased in the Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport-Stamford urbanized area between 2006 and 2011. This proportion fell in 84 of the largest 100 urbanized areas. Likewise, the proportion of households with two or more vehicles fell in 86 out the 100 most populous urbanized areas during this period, including all three cities in CT. 
  • The proportion of residents working out of their home increased in all 100 of America’s most populous urbanized areas between 2000 and 2010.

The study found that cities with the largest decreases in driving were not those hit hardest by the recession. On the contrary, the economies of urbanized areas with the largest declines in driving appear to have been less affected by the recession according to unemployment, income and poverty indicators.

In Connecticut, the Bridgeport-Stamford, New Haven, and Hartford urbanized areas all saw decreases in driving and increases in transit and biking.  The one exception was in per-capita transit miles traveled in Hartford where there was a slight decrease.

“It’s time for politicians in Hartford to support transportation initiatives that reflects these travel trends around the state,” said Doyle.  “Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars continuing to enlarge our grandfather’s Interstate Highway System, we should be investing in the kinds of transportation options that the public increasingly favors.”

Across the nation, young people have shown the steepest reductions in driving. Americans 16 to 34 years of age reduced their average driving miles by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009.

Download the report, “Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities” here.

To read an earlier ConnPIRG Education Fund report on the implications of the national decline in driving, download, “A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future” download here.

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ConnPIRG Education Fund works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation.

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