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Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar

Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon          

“It must always be remembered how cost-effectiveness works in the public sector: the cost IS the benefit.” - author unknown

(Thanks to Tom Rubin for this information & much of the below text.)

Here is a comparison of the commute times for the principle city (or cities) in a UZA to outside of the principle city(ies).

Interestingly, for the entire population, the commute time for those who DIDN’T live in the principle city was a bit shorter.

Principle City Commute Times compared to Outside Principle City

Home-to-Work Travel Time (minutes)

based on all 74 USA cities with population of 500,000 or more








Principle City(ies)




Non-Principle City(ies)




Modal Splits:




Principle City(ies)    



Non-Principle City(ies)



Details for Each City   Excel™ spreadsheet of the data


Most of the time differences are not real huge, except that using transit from outside of the principle city is 15% more time-consuming.  Interestingly, the total travel time is shorter for the “suburbs,” even though both the auto and the transit travel times are shorter for the principle cities.  The modes not covered above mix it up a bit, the main reason is the mix – transit is considerably slower than auto, and there is a lot more transit in the principle cities than in the “suburbs,” so that why you get that result.

The UZA where the outside folk had the biggest advantage was NYC, where the “inside” travel time was 127% of the outside, 37.6 minutes to 29.4 – and the reason why in the NYC travel time was so big – the biggest – beating out Lancaster-Palmdale, at 35.4 – was its nation’s highest transit modal split, 53.7%.

The UZA where the insides had the biggest advantage was Honolulu, 22.0 minutes to 29.4.

The “winner” of the longest commute award goes to the 9,362 residents of the Poughkeepsie-Newburg UZA who take transit to work, averaging 75.9 minutes – for the round-trip, that’s over two-and-one-half hours each day.  For the 7,297 who DON”T live in either of these two fine cities proper, it is 85.4 minutes, each way – within ten minutes of an every three-hour round-trip commute.

The shortest commute was the residents of the city of Rochester who drove to work – 16.5 minutes.

Feel free to use it as long as you give credit to Tom Rubin

Details for Each City


All data is from the American Community Survey for 2005-2007.  Using data for a three-year period is not only a larger database, but it helps get rid of any short-term distortions.

The population of urbanized areas was the 74 UZAs with population over 500,000 in the latest Texas Transportation Institute report (for reporting year 2007).

All data is based on RESIDENCY – where you live, NOT where your job is, although, obviously, these are the same for a lot of people.

We got the data for the entire UZA and for any and all “named” principle cities.  For the Chicago, UZA, just Chicago.  For Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, all three.  Some of these were more logical than others, there was a very wide variation in the percentage of the total population was in the principle city(ies) (from 6.7% for Miami, where the UZA is the three-county area, but Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach are not named in the UZA name, to 92.2% for Lancaster-Palmdale, where all the guys who used to post “Los Angeles City Limits” signs on South Pacific islands and the middle of Tunisian deserts during WWII moved to after the war), but, I didn’t want to get into any arguments that I was playing games with the population, I just applied a flat rule, if it was named in the reports I utilized, the city was included; if it wasn’t, it wasn’t.

From there, it was just a matter of subtracting the data for the principle cities from the UZA totals to produce the non-principle cites data for each UZA and some simple calculations and sums.  There was only one real questionable result – haven’t quite figured out how those 74 people who use transit who live outside the El Paso city limits do their travel in a NEGATIVE 30 minutes each day.

Auto means drive alone, carpool, and vanpool.  Transit is all modes, bus, train, ferry, demand-response, incline plane, cable car, monorail, everything.  Although they are included in the totals, I’ve left off the detail for the minor modes, walk, bike, work-at-home, which are far bigger deals in the principle cities, but still not real big.  All data is for workers at least 16 years of age.