S.F. leads in transit use, lags on carpools

While San Francisco is not at the top of the list of the nation’s carpooling cities, it continues to lead the pack when it comes to public-transit use, according to a transportation report released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

San Francisco remains among the top three cities for residents riding public transportation, with 33 percent of people using mass transit as the main mode of transportation in 2005, the last year data is available — behind only New York, at 55 percent, and Washington, D.C., at 38 percent.

Overall, about half of the nation’s 6.2 million public-transit commuters can be found in 10 of the nation’s 50 cities with the most adult workers, which include Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., according to the report.

While transit use in San Francisco remains high, The City ranked fifth from the bottom of the same 50 cities in the number of people carpooling to work. Only 8 percent of San Francisco residents said they regularly carpooled in 2005. New York City came in last, with only 6 percent of people sharing rides.

Transportation officials, however, say the carpooling figures are not as negative as they appear. About 60 percent of commuters in The City are using an alternative mode of transportation rather than driving alone, said Debbie Maus, manager of the 511 Regional Rideshare Program.

“You have to look at the data in the larger context,” Maus said. “Carpooling is just one option. People need to choose options that work the best for them.”

Besides transit usage, San Francisco is also near the top when it comes to commuters walking and bicycling to work in 2005.

Bicycling is the main mode of transportation for 2 percent of San Franciscans, although the San Francisco Bicycling Coalition puts the figure slightly higher. In Portland, Ore., about 3.5 percent of commuters bike to work on a daily basis, the most in any city, the report states.

Ten percent of city residents walk to work, according to the report.

Getting around

The City is among the top cities for bicycling, walking and taking public transportation to work, but falls behind in carpooling.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

» New York: 55%

» Washington, D.C.: 38%

» San Francisco: 33%

WALKING

» Boston: 12.5%

» Washington, D.C.: 10%

» San Francisco: 9.6%

BIKING

» Portland: 3.5%

»Minneapolis: 2.5%

» San Francisco: 2%

CARPOOLING

» Mesa, Ariz.: 17%

» Chicago: 11%

» San Francisco: 8%

– Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2005 American Community Survey

arocha@examiner.com

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