For the first time in 50 years, the percentage of commuters who rely on the automobile, at least in urban areas, is dropping. "Although such shifts in travel behavior are slight, they have captured attention because they represent a disruption in an unequivocal, decades-long pattern of increased automobile travel," states a recent survey of travel habits by the U.S. Census Bureau. But Tampa Bay motorists aren't getting on board this trend.
According 2013 census data released earlier this month, the Tampa Bay area lags behind the national average and South Florida in escaping the hold of the automobile. Among the findings:
Of 1.2 million daily commutes in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties, 89.8 percent were by private vehicle, which was higher than the national average of 86 percent and 84 percent for the South Florida counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.
Of the 1.1 million daily commutes by private vehicle in Tampa Bay, 80.6 percent were by motorists driving alone, a main contributor to congestion. That trumped the national average of 76.4 percent and South Florida's average of 78.1 percent.
Tampa Bay averaged a miniscule percentage of workers commuting to jobs via public transportation, 1.4 percent or 16,380 daily transit trips. By comparison, South Florida's average was more than double, at 3.8 percent. Both lagged far behind the national average of 5.2 percent.
Nearly one out of five Tampa Bay residents, or 233,272 out of 1.2 million, commute to their jobs in a county different from where they live. That's a higher percentage than South Florida's metro area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, where only 14 percent of its 2.5 million commuters leave their counties of residence to get to their jobs.
The Tampa Bay county with the highest percentage of commuters leaving their home turf is Pasco. Bereft of many industries or jobs, Pasco exports nearly half of its workforce, or 84,714, to another county to work. That rate is double the U.S. average of 27 percent.
If Pasco is the biggest burden on other county road systems for the share of its residents who consume the capacity of neighboring networks, Hillsborough is the most charitable.
Of the 634,544 workers whose jobs are in Hillsborough, about 20 percent, or 126,817, come from another county.
Tampa Bay's commuting patterns
Rank in percentage of workers who stay in home county to get to work
1. Hillsborough: 87.9 percent: Of its 577,297 residents older than 16 who work, 507,727 stay.
2. Pinellas: 85.8 percent. Of its 406,181 workers, 348,589 stay.
3. Hernando: 61.4 percent. Of its 55,363 workers, 33,967 stay.
4. Pasco: 52.5 percent. Of its 178,321 workers, only 93,607 stay.
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Who gets the most commuters?
Of the 634,544 who work in Hillsborough each day, 126, 816, (20%) commute to from another county. They include 51,525 from Pasco, 42,358 from Pinellas, 12,273 from Polk, 6,902 from Hernando, and 4,269 from Manatee.
Of the 414,509 who work in Pinellas, 165,920 (4.2%) come from other counties, including 32,626 from Hillsborough, 23,142 from Pasco, 3,929 from Manatee, and 2,581 from Hernando.
Of the 119,326 who work in Pasco, 25,719 (21.6%) come from other counties, include 9,548 from Hillsborough, 8,112 from Hernando, 5,399 from Pinellas.
Where do commuters go?
69,570 workers who leave go to:
Pinellas: 46.9% (32,626)
Polk: 16% (11,135)
Pasco: 13.7% (9,548)
57,592 workers who leave go to:
Hillsborough: 73.6% (42,358)
Pasco: 9.4% (5,399)
Manatee: 2.8% (1,656)
84,714 workers who leave go to:
Hillsborough: 60.8% (51,525)
Pinellas: 27.3% (23,142)
Hernando: 4.6% (3,886)
33,967 workers who leave go to:
Pasco: 23.9% (8,112)
Hillsborough: 20.3% (6,902)
Pinellas: 7.6% (2,581)
Citrus: 3.6% (1,215)
National statistics on how we get to work
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, August, 2015