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New Census Data Suggests Growing Transit Use Statewide – but Not in Boston or Cambridge

5:22 PM EDT on September 26, 2019

Pioneer Valley Transit Authority buses at the Springfield Union Station in July 2017. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Newflyer504, licensed under Creative Commons.

Newly-released estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey suggest that Massachusetts residents are turning away from single-occupant motor vehicle use for their daily commutes, and more likely to use public transit to get to work – except in the state's most transit-accessible cities.

In raw numbers, however, the total number of single-occupant-vehicle commuters still grew statewide, because of overall population growth.

In the core cities of Boston and Cambridge, rates of transit use for work commutes appear to be declining, although they remain well above the statewide average.

In Boston, an estimated 32.2 of workers used the T to commute in 2018, down from 34 percent in 2014.

An estimated 25.6 percent of Cambridge workers used transit to get to work in 2018, compared to 29.7 percent in 2014.

The estimates released today reflect the results of demographic surveys conducted over the course of 2018. Margins of errors for these figures are large enough that some of the smaller year-to-year changes are likely to be the result of sampling errors. Nevertheless, the estimates represent our best guess about how commuting behavior is changing over time.

Statewide estimates for residents' means of transportation to work

Drove alone2,418,81871.22%2,457,10770.10%2,482,76469.76%
Worked from home163,5284.82%180,0895.14%188,5485.30%

Estimates for City of Boston residents' means of transportation to work

Drove alone131,33538.88%142,55439.36%144,79338.49%
Worked from home11,3743.37%11,3173.12%14,0283.73%

Estimates for City of Cambridge residents' means of transportation to work

Drove alone16,14625.72%16,52526.54%18,08125.87%
Worked from home4,7457.56%3,8786.23%4,7006.73%

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