Jim Titus recently took on Maryland governor Larry Hogan’s claim that that fewer than 10% of Marylanders use transit. There’s another national survey that provides data for every state, and confirms that about 30% of Marylanders used transit in a specific month — fourth highest in the US.
Commenter Uptowner pointed out another good source for transit usage: the National Household Transportation Survey (NHTS).
In the survey, last administered in 2009, participants report their daily travel habits, which become part of national estimates of travel behavior. The survey asks other questions as well, including how much people rode transit in the previous month.
Here are the numbers from the 2009 NHTS:
|All Respondents 16+||Working Respondents 16+||Respondents 16+ Answering Transit Question|
|Transit User||Regular Transit User||Transit User||Regular Transit User||Transit User||Regular Transit User|
As the table above shows, 30% of Maryland residents 16 and older used transit in the previous month. That rises slightly, to 32%, when we exclude non-workers. Also, some respondents do not answer this question; when we examine only those answering the question, almost 36% of Maryland respondents report riding transit in the previous month.
The Maryland sample is of a sufficient size (643 respondents aged 16 and up) to allow for 95% confidence that the estimate is accurate within about five percentage points.
The survey asks respondents how often they used transit in any way, which gives us additional information to examine. I classified those taking at least 20 trips as “regular transit users,” a category that 8.6% of Maryland respondents qualify for. This isn’t far from Governor Hogan’s assertion that less than 10% of Marylanders use transit, but it only covers the heaviest of transit users. When we include everyone who rode transit in the previous month, we get the 30% figure.
Unfortunately, the NHTS doesn’t provide information at a more local level than the state, so we can’t look at Montgomery or Prince George’s counties or respondents in and around Baltimore; transit ridership in these more urbanized areas is likely higher than the state average.
The NHTS lets us look beyond just Maryland
Virginia’s transit usage is close to the national average of 17% transit users and 5% regular transit users. DC’s is much higher: Over three-quarters of District residents had ridden transit in the past month, and about a third had taken at least 20 rides in the month.
The NHTS data makes it possible to calculate transit usage rates for people 16 and old in each state (and DC), though the sample size is small enough in some states to make those estimates less reliable. Still, using those estimates, Maryland has the fourth-highest level of transit usage in the country, behind only DC, New York, and Massachusetts.
|Rank||State||Transit Users||Regular Transit Users|
However you slice the data, it’s clear that far more than 10% of Marylanders use transit. Moreover, Maryland is one of the most transit-dependent states, and it would be a huge disservice to Marylanders to minimize the role transit plays in their lives.