Commuting to Work in Portland
Despite a decade of rising traffic congestion, the average commute in Portland takes about as long as in San Francisco or Los Angeles 20 years ago.
2010 U.S.A. census figures show Portland-area residents typically commute 24 minutes to work −the same as it was in the 2010 census and just below the national mean travel time of 25 minutes. It is still a shorter journey than in nine of the nation's 50 top metropolitan areas, including Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Statewide, nearly 72 percent of Oregonians reported driving to work alone, while 11 percent carpooled and 4.5 percent took public transportation.
2010 Census Data and American Community Survey
Despite a big push to build bicycle lanes and light-rail lines in recent years, the Portland metro area remains nearly as car-dependent as the Puget Sound and Southern California, according to U.S. Census data.
When it comes to workers regularly taking public transit, the Portland region's 6.1 percent trailed the Los Angeles area's 6.2 percent, the just-released results of 2009 American Community Surveyon commuting show. The “Journey to Work” study showed nearly 8.7 percent of Seattle area workers take public transit.
As has long been the case, the vast majority of the region’s residents prefer to drive alone to work daily. Public-transit usage actually dropped from 6.3 percent in 2008. The survey was taken at a time when the recession caused huge drops in TriMet ridership.
The region (defined as “Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton” in the study) was the only metro area with a population of more than 1 million residents to have a bicycle-commuting rate of at least 2 percent. Bicycling was the main commuting mode for 2.3 percent or residents. The city of Portland − which led the nation with a bicycle-commuting rate of 6 percent last year, according to an analysis by the League of American Bicyclists − gave the region the edge. Seattle and San Francisco were a distant second and third at 3.6 and 3.5 percent, respectively.
The region’s mean commuting time remains virtually unchanged at about 24 minutes, just below the national mean travel time of 25 minutes, according to a statistical map in the study.
Source: "Census data: Portland region still car-dependent, despite bike and public transit commuting," September 27, 2011, by Joseph Rose, The Oregonian.
Texas Transportation Institute Traffic Report
Portland, the nation’s 29rd largest urban area, ranked 6th on the list of the U.S. cities with the worst traffic congestion, according to study by the Texas Transportation Institute that was released in early 2013. The report analyzed congestion patterns in 498 of the nation's urban areas.
A tight, circular freeway system within the growth boundaries tends to create bunched-up morning and evening commutes that can seize up after just a couple of simultaneous fender benders, according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute's new Urban Mobility Report. Other findings:
After traffic flow outside peak hours (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.) is factored into the calculations, Portland ranks 17th on the list of America's most-congested cities. That's the same position it held last year. In 2010, the region was ranked 24th.
For the fourth year in a row, Washington, D.C., had the dubious honor of being named the nation's most-congested city by the report, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, New York-Newark and Boston.
Light Rail Open to Debate
Activists, regional planners and legislators have sparred for a decade about how to address the most visible effect of population growth: traffic congestion. And each camp can find ammunition in the Census.
It shows west side light rail between downtown Portland and Hillsboro, which opened four years ago, helped boost the number of rail commuters from about 2,600 in 1990 to 9,100 in April 2000, before the downtown streetcar and airport MAX opened. In neighborhoods lining the tracks, MAX drew 5 percent to 10 percent of commuters.
Critics of the nearly $1 billion west side line say that's a trickle compared to the 800,000 people who drove alone - or the 54,000 who, according to the census, rode the bus. It's also a small portion of all rides on MAX, which average 68,000 per weekday.
"Rail is irrelevant to most people in the region," said John Charles, environmental policy director at the free-market-oriented Cascade Policy Institute in Portland.
But Metro officials say the census greatly undercounts MAX commuters because it asks workers how they "usually" get to work. That leaves out occasional riders. Metro surveys and computer models put one-way commuter trips at 44,000 a day, which would suggest individual commuters number 22,000.
Biking to Work
The Rose City has been judged the most bicycle-friendly place in North America, according to Bicycling magazine in one award and the League of American Bicyclists in another. Portland wins accolades for its extensive bikeways (309 miles of bikeways) and willingness to include cyclists in its master planning. Corvallis, Ashland and Beaverton have been honored as well.
American Automobile Association chapter Oregon/Idaho is the first AAA club in the U.S. to include bicycle service as part of its regular roadside membership benefits package for AAA Plus, Plus RV and Premier members. There is no additional charge for roadside service which applies to all bicycles and tandems, including rental bicycles and bicycle trailers.
November 2010 The average daily trips across Portland's four busiest cycling bridges have increased after a one-year decline. There are now roughly 17,500 bicyclists per day crossing the Willamette River via four bike-friendly bridges the − Hawthorne, Steel, Burnside and Broadway −according to the study.
Bike traffic on the four bridges increased 12 percent. Cyclists represented about 14 percent of all vehicles crossing those bridges, a one percent increase compared to 2009. On the Hawthorne, 20 percent of all vehicles crossing were bikes, a one percent decrease compared to 2009. On the Broadway the number of bikers was 16 percent; on the Steel, 17 percent; and on the Burnside, 5 percent.
At 109 other locations, bike traffic jumped 7 percent. The total number of bicycle trips in the city grew 8 percent in 2010 compared to 2009, according to the count. Southwest Portland and East Portland lead the growth in bicycle trips with 19 percent and 9.5 percent increases respectively.
Portland Ranks First in Nation for Biking to Work
A larger share of Portlanders commute by bicycle than in any other large city in America, eight times the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey data showed 6.4 percent told the survey that they bicycled to work in 2008. This makes Portland No. 1 in bicycle commuting among the 30 largest cities in the country. The percentage of walkers and transit users also rose.
Across the Portland metro area, 21,921 people rode bicycles to work. Statewide, 37,582 people pedaled to work.
According to the US Census 2000, the region's average journey to work has stretched to 24 minutes in 2000 - less than you might expect with 26 percent population growth since 1990.
Metro Counties Average Commute Time in Minutes
Clackamas - 26.2