Transportation Choices

How Are We Doing?

Transportation choices received a neutral rating because the percentage of San Diegans who drive alone changed from 75.7% in 2017 to 76.3% in 2018, which is within the American Community Survey's statistical margin of error. Compared with other regions, San Diego County has a low percentage of bicycle and public transit commuters. Want to know more about what we're measuring?

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Neutral from 2016 to 2017

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate, 2018

The percentage of workers in San Diego County who drove to work alone remained high at 76.3% in 2017, with only 3.1% of workers taking public transportation to work. The only transportation option to show a change greater than the statistical margin of error built into the American Community Survey was the proportion of people that walked to work, decreasing from 3.2% in 2016 to 2.7% in 2017.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate, 2018

The percentage of workers in San Diego County who drove to work alone remained high at 76.3% in 2017, with only 3.1% of workers taking public transportation to work. The only transportation option to show a change greater than the statistical margin of error built into the American Community Survey was the proportion of people that walked to work, decreasing from 3.2% in 2016 to 2.7% in 2017.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate, 2018

The percentage of workers in San Diego County who drove to work alone remained high at 76.3% in 2017, with only 3.1% of workers taking public transportation to work. The only transportation option to show a change greater than the statistical margin of error built into the American Community Survey was the proportion of people that walked to work, decreasing from 3.2% in 2016 to 2.7% in 2017.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate, 2018

The number of bicycle commuters in San Diego has not changed significantly in the last three years. San Francisco remains the leader despite its hilly terrain but all counties show a decrease in the period 2015-2017.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate, 2018

The number of bicycle commuters in San Diego has not changed significantly in the last three years. San Francisco remains the leader despite its hilly terrain but all counties show a decrease in the period 2015-2017.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate, 2018

The number of bicycle commuters in San Diego has not changed significantly in the last three years. San Francisco remains the leader despite its hilly terrain but all counties show a decrease in the period 2015-2017.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate, 2018

Public transportation use among workers in San Diego County was 3.1%, which is low compared with San Francisco County (more than 30%) and Los Angeles County (more than 6%). Allowing for statistical margins of error, this level is consistent with 2016 levels.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate, 2018

Public transportation use among workers in San Diego County was 3.1%, which is low compared with San Francisco County (more than 30%) and Los Angeles County (more than 6%). Allowing for statistical margins of error, this level is consistent with 2016 levels.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate, 2018

Public transportation use among workers in San Diego County was 3.1%, which is low compared with San Francisco County (more than 30%) and Los Angeles County (more than 6%). Allowing for statistical margins of error, this level is consistent with 2016 levels.

Why is it Important?

High quality of life means a clean environment, a thriving economy, and an equitable place for all to enjoy.

  • Low income, environmentally-burdened communities (i.e., disproportionately affected by high levels of pollution) in the City of San Diego have over three times the amount of transit-dependent households (those without a car) in comparison to the entire city. Access to reliable public transportation is therefore critical.
  • According to the Brookings Institute, low-income neighborhoods in the San Diego metropolitan area have the highest percentage of transit coverage (92%) and job access (37%), but the lowest service frequency (6.8%) compared to middle and high-income neighborhoods.
  • The San Diego County commuter who biked and walked to work helped to avoid nearly 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent in one year, comparable to switching 34 incandescent lights to LEDs, or planting and growing 15 tree seedlings for 10 years.

Regional Response

Policies

San Diego County’s primary planning agencies, San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), are considering proposing tax increases to pay for new transit developments. City Council President and MTS Board Chair Georgette Gomez indicated that MTS was interested in a half-cent sales tax increase. SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata has proposed a number of new development ideas, including underground trolley lines, new transit hubs, and hyper-loop style transportation systems.

Projects

In December 2018, the City of San Diego initiated construction of the first phase of the Downtown Mobility Cycle Track Network, a system of protected lanes for bikes and scooters. Eventually, the track will allow cyclists to travel from Balboa Park to the San Diego Convention Center.

Partnerships

Completed in March 2019, Villa Encantada Apartments, located adjacent to a trolley station in Encanto, is the most recent affordable housing transit-oriented development (TOD). This housing development includes 67 apartments classified as LEED Silver and resulted from an agreement between MTS and AMCAL Multifamily Housing. Commuters can use the Orange trolley line to reach downtown within 20 minutes.


What Are We Measuring?

We measure alternative transportation by tracking the percentage of workers 16 years or older who commute by car, bicycle, public transit or other options, and compare these proportions to other major urban counties. Greenhouse gas emissions avoided are estimated using the California Air Resources Board's Emissions Factor model (EMFAC2017), assuming commuters would otherwise be driving a 2017 model year gasoline car five days a week. Average walking commute distance for the San Diego region is 0.7 miles round trip, and bicycle commute distance is 8 miles round trip. These trip lengths are locally obtained from SANDAG. Commute distances for other counties will vary. Learn more about the data.