(Courtesy SFMTA)

Survey: Private auto use in SF lower than before, except among wealthier residents

There are fewer portions of trips made by car in San Francisco since such trip data was first surveyed, according to a new city survey, but wealthier residents are driving at higher rates.

Those are among the myriad results in the newest edition of an annual survey conducted for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on The City’s transportation habits, which was unveiled Tuesday at the SFMTA Board of Directors meeting.

The “Travel Decision Survey” was conducted by the firm Fehr Peers, and consisted of calls to cellphones and landlines of more than 750 Bay Area residents. The survey has been conducted annually since 2013 and has consistently shown half of San Francisco residents, or fewer, drive alone for their trips. That percentage has largely fluctuated between 50 and 46 percent, within a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

But for the first time since the survey was first conducted, private auto use has dropped to 43 percent of all San Francisco trips made.

Non-private auto use, including transit, shuttles, walking, cycling, and ride-hail trips, comprise 57 percent of all San Francisco trips.

SFMTA planner Keith Tanner told the SFMTA board on Tuesday that other available data indicates private auto trips in San Francisco have dropped.

“The raw total of private auto trips may have been declining in the last two years,” he told the board, as opposed to just a percentage of total trips.

Those trips include heading to work, home, dining, recreation, errands and school. Trips made on the west and south sides saw car use more often, while those in the urban core took transit and walked more often.

Use of ride-hails also increased “significantly” over the past two years, according to a report on the survey. Uber and Lyft trips now account for 4 percent of all trips in The City.

Income was a high indicator of car use: San Franciscans making less than $75,000 annually made 32 percent of their trips by car, while those making more than $75,000 annually took 48 percent of their trips by car.

With people living outside of San Francisco but traveling within The City, the divide was less stark. Bay Area residents making less than $75,000 made 45 percent of trips in San Francisco by car, and those making more than $75,000 made 49 percent of city trips by car.

“The trend that we’re seeing in removing people from private cars is consistent with our overall mission,” SFMTA board member Malcolm Heinicke said. “I think this is something we can use publicly … to explain and justify the things we’re doing.”Transit

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