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The Utter Dominance of the Car in Commuting and How It Impacts Park City

Vox has an interesting article talking about the single-occupant car. It opens, “In small pockets of large cities around America, a growing number of people have been walking, biking, or taking public transit to work in recent years. A disproportionate focus on these cities has led advocates and journalists to celebrate the resurgence of car-free forms of transportation. But the researchers who study overall commuting data see things very differently. The dominant mode of travel, by far, is the single-occupant automobile … and the car shows no signs of going away.”

The article speaks to a number of issues, including the demise of the carpool and the fact that car ownership is rising in low-income populations. It also shows that only about 5.5% of people bike or use public transit to go to work. This includes major metropolitan areas.

I believe this impacts Park City for two reasons. It shows that on average we could only expect 5.5% of our residents to commute on public transportation and probably less because our congestion/population doesn’t mimic a city like New York and our weather can be rough. Second, visitors who are used to driving will usually either drive here to Park City or rent a car. I believe public transit is a mindset and if you don’t have it at home, you likely won’t have it when you visit here.

This isn’t to say public transit is a lost cause but it’s likely just a small part of our solution… something like 10-15% as best. The question is whether that’s enough “to solve our problems” or do we also need to be focusing on something else. And if we should also be focusing on something else, do we put all our eggs in one (transportation) basket.


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