I personally thought the USA Today article was informative, if not unbiased.
As a journalistic end, I believe objective reporting is an elusive, if not
unattainable goal. About all that can be expected is that information will
be presented that documents a significant event or social trend. In this
sense, the USA Today article, like many of those that appear in mass-market
'news'-oriented magazines was interesting. As one who does not drive, or
car-pool, it was useful in presenting information about the lifestyle of
what appears to be a significant segment of the population. In that sense
it broadened my mental horizons.
Now to my point about mass-transit. Barring a radical change in technology,
I don't think that it will ever be a palatable alternative for most people.
I live in a small metropolitan area where bus service is the only available
mass-transportation. To cite an example from several months ago, I had to
take most of a day in order to take care of four relatively routine errands,
which required that I use the community's bus system. Even with good
connections, it required six hours, of which probably two were devoted to
the actual errands.
Which brings me to my second point (not road-rage but pedestrian-rage). I
don't know if it's typical of other communities, but the behavior of
motorists towards pedestrians is rude in the extreme--from parking in bus
stops to practically running you over when crossing a street. The precedent
can be found in the Middle Ages, when knights were the only people with
horses, and the peasantry was forced to walk. The horse gave the 5 percent
of the population who had one the freedom to splash mud on whoever they
chose. The only difference now is that 95 percent of the population with
vehicles has the luxury to be rude, and the other five percent who don't
have to put up with it.
So to my final point, to all of you knights (and ladies) of the road, enjoy
your commute to work, and please show some consideration to those who don't
drive and have either to walk or depend on public transportation. Be
grateful to the freedom that the automobile has given you, and be
considerate enough to use it responsibly.
There--I got it off my chest--I feel better.
City of Pueblo CO Dept. of Planning & Development
From: owner-ctpp-news(a)chrispy.net [mailto:email@example.com]On
Behalf Of Tom Reinauer
Sent: Friday, May 31, 2002 7:06 AM
To: Chuck Purvis; ctpp-news(a)chrispy.net
Subject: Re: [CTPP] USA Today article on drive alone commute (long post)
The mistake on the 1990 figure for the San Fran metro area I consider a
minor problem compared to one-sided stories (depending on the intent of a
particular article) or the misinterpretation and/or misunderstanding of the
Wait until local and national newspapers start delving into more detailed
statistics. I suspect that even with careful explanation from planners, it
will often be twisted and hardly helpful.
Content because my baseball team is 35-15.
Tom Reinauer, Transportation Director
Southern Maine RPC
21 Bradeen St. Suite 304
Springvale, ME 04083
----- Original Message -----
From: "Chuck Purvis" <CPurvis(a)mtc.ca.gov>
Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2002 7:21 PM
Subject: [CTPP] USA Today article on drive alone commute (long post)
Here's the link to today's USA Today article on driving alone in America.
Of course, the Census Bureau hasn't yet released data for nine states and
Puerto Rico (which are due out next week.) My bet is that Michigan (data not
yet released) is still the #1 state in terms of drive alone share of total
By the way, my old web site has 1990 data on state-level commute-to-work
Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians
and Activists" by Joel Best, UC Press, 2001. Recommended reading. Excellent
for critical thinking about the statistics that media and others use.
Which brings me to my point about lies and statistics in the USA Today
I'll try to be brief.
1. USA Today states that the drive alone commute share in the San
area declined from 73 percent in 1990 to 68 percent in 2000.
The 2000 figure is accurate at 68.0 percent. On the other hand, our 1990
drive alone commute share was 68.2 percent. So, our overall drive alone
commute share declined from 68.2 percent to 68.0 percent. (This is nice, but
2. USA Today claims that "Many transportation officials, planners and
environmentalists have concluded that carpooling lanes don't help reduce
traffic." Well, this is pretty shaky journalism. Like, who or what's the
source of this information? Alan, is this from you? You're cited in the next
I will agree that the USA Today article is entertaining, though the
factual information with anecdotal commutes is getting to be
Some more quips and quotes from the USA Today article:
1. "Forty minutes in the car may be the equivalent of the bubble bath"
2. "There is more to life than quality time in your car, no matter how
your sound system is"
3. "The car is often the last refuge of
prohibits all smoking in workplaces, including offices,
restaurants." (Note that California prohibits smoking in bars, as well.
However, we do allow you to smoke inside your own home, even in your own
4. "Consumers of audio books listen to them on
average 4.4 hours a week in
their cars, compared with 1.1 hours on mass transit,
according to the Audio
Publishers Association." (Gotta wonder who's answering these surveys!)
On the plus side, the USA Today's graphics are pretty darned good.
Cranky Because My Baseball Team is 24-27.
Charles L. Purvis, AICP
Senior Transportation Planner/Analyst
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
101 Eighth Street
Oakland, CA 94607-4700
(510) 464-7731 (office)
(510) 464-7848 (fax)
Census WWW: http://census.mtc.ca.gov/