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STUDY REVEALS COMMUTERS' TOP CONCERNS

 STUDY REVEALS COMMUTERS' TOP CONCERNS
 SAN FRANCISCO, July 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Although 74 percent of


Bay Area commuters drive alone, many say they would consider an alternative if their employer provided them with more incentives. That's one of the findings of "Commute Profile '92," a new study by RIDES for Bay Area Commuters, the regional rideshare agency.
 RIDES conducted a random telephone survey of 1,600 commuters in the nine-county Bay Area to determine how they get to work and why they choose particular commute modes, such as driving alone or using transit. The study was sponsored by the California Department of Transportation and KCBS Newsradio 74.
 "We undertook the study to gain a better understanding of the behavior and attitudes of commuters, and it will be even more valuable next year when we can draw comparisons," said RIDES' Executive Director John Hirten. "However, we learned a great deal, such as the role of public policy and how incentives offered by public and private employers affect commute mode choice."
 Many commuters said their employers encourage them to use alternatives to driving alone. Employers most commonly provide carpool/vanpool assistance and transit information, according to respondents. Employers also offer preferential parking for carpools and vanpools, on-site transit pass sales, and transit subsidies.
 Employer assistance seems to make a difference in commuters' choices. Employees who reported the availability of carpool/vanpool assistance and transit pass sales or subsidies reflected higher-than- average usage of these modes. Nearly half of the commuters who say they don't receive carpool/vanpool assistance would use such a service, and many who say they do not receive transit subsidies would take advantage of them if they were available.
 Significantly, 80 percent reported access to free parking, and the drive-alone rate to those sites is higher than average.
 "This is the first study to probe Bay Area residents' motivations in choosing a commute mode, and we're finding some fascinating anomalies," said Hirten. "For instance, solo drivers cite travel time as a reason for not ridesharing, but commute alternative users cite the same reason for ridesharing. Perhaps they find transit and carpooling can save them time."
 Interestingly, solo drivers and commute-alternative users share the same top two concerns: convenience/flexibility and travel time to work. Many solo drivers said they had no practical alternative to driving alone, while many commute alternative users said cost was a major factor.
 RIDES found a correlation between distance to work and mode choice. Carpooling, vanpooling and BART ridership rose steadily the longer the commute distance. Use of these alternatives dropped only among commuters traveling more than 40 miles one way.
 The findings of Commute Profile '92 were slightly different from the recent U.S. Census figures, which showed a drive-alone rate of 71 percent among Bay Area commuters. RIDES' study showed a 74 percent drive-alone rate, while 13 percent of respondents reported using transit, such as BART, buses, CalTrain, light rail, or the ferry to get to work. The second most common alternative was carpooling or vanpooling. Among solo drivers, 84 percent were aware of alternatives to driving alone.
 "The information in our study will be more useful to transportation planners than the census data," said Hirten. "We ask more specific questions, and we plan to conduct the survey more frequently than the census." RIDES will conduct another survey next year and continue it biennially.
 The survey also asked how transit users get from home to transit stops. Bus riders usually walk, but many others drive alone. This is significant for air quality planners since most emissions occur when a car is "cold-started," or before the catalytic converter has warmed up.
 Commute Profile '92 found that job classification, household income, and age had little correlation to mode choice. Jobs which tend to require cars reflected a slightly higher drive-alone rate, and those with household incomes of under $20,000 were least likely to drive alone. The drive-alone rate generally increased with commuters' age.
 Almost two-thirds of commuters said they watched or listened to traffic reports, and most said they would use a different route based on these reports. Using alternate routes is not an answer, said Hirten, since the tendency is to clog up surface streets.
 "To better understand how to get people out of their solo-occupancy vehicles, we need to identify which incentives can be effective," Hirten continued. "Public and private employers can play a tremendous role by offering low-cost services, such as carpool and transit assistance. This role will be more important next year when large employers are required to offer commute services under new air quality regulations."
 MODES USED BY BAY AREA COMMUTERS
 (in percent)
 Bay Area North East South West
 Bay(A) Bay(A) Bay(A) Bay(A)
 Drive alone 74.4 81.5 75.7 84.3 61.8
 Carpool/
 vanpool 8.5 8.8 9.1 8.5 4.5
 Bus 6.9 6.4 4.2 1.5 18.7
 BART 4.6 1.0 7.2 .5 5.2
 Walk 1.7 1.5 1.5 1.2 3.0
 Bicycle 1.5 1.3 .5 2.0 2.2
 Motorcycle 1.1 -- 1.0 1.0 2.0
 CalTrain .6 .3 -- .2 2.1
 Light Rail .3 -- -- .7 .5
 Ferry .2 .5 .5 -- --
 Telecommute .1 -- .2 -- --
 TOTAL 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
 (A)North Bay: Marin/Sonoma/Napa counties; East Bay: Alameda/Contra
 Costa/Solano counties; South Bay: Santa Clara County; West Bay:
 San Francisco/San Mateo counties
 FACTORS INFLUENCING COMMUTER'S CHOICE OF MODES
 (Top Three Choices Given)
 (in percent)
 Solo Drivers Commute Alternative Users
 Convenience/flexibility 28.3 24.0
 Travel time to work 25.6 31.9
 No other practical options 12.3 8.2
 Need car during work 7.1 4.3
 Commuting costs 4.2 13.7
 Comfort/relaxation 2.7 6.7
 Need car before/after work 7.6 4.8
 Not depending on others 3.9 2.8
 To avoid parking problems .2 3.1
 Safety 2.7 2.2
 Buses are unreliable 2.9 2.2
 Environmental concerns -- 3.0
 Privacy 2.2 1.3
 Services offered by
 employer -- .1
 Stress -- .9
 To get exercise .2 .4
 Other -- .3
 COMMUTE TIMES AND DISTANCES
 Bay Area North East South West
 Bay(A) Bay(A) Bay(A) Bay(A)
 Commute Time
 (minutes)
 To home 28.7 29.9 30.2 24.8 29.2
 To work 26.3 27.5 28.1 22.1 26.4
 Commute
 Distance
 (one-way,
 miles) 16.06 18.49 18.33 13.48 13.25
 (A) North Bay: Marin/Sonoma/Napa counties; East Bay: Alameda/Contra
 Costa/Solano counties; South Bay: Santa Clara County; West Bay:
 San Francisco/San Mateo counties
 STOPS MADE BY COMMUTERS ON THE WAY TO AND FROM WORK
 (in percent)
 To Work From Work
 Shopping/groceries 4.4 16.8
 Entertainment/recreation 3.7 3.6
 Take/pick up child from school 1.7 2.0
 Gasoline 1.6 2.0
 Bank/Post Office 1.3 3.5
 Take/pick up child from daycare .9 1.2
 Other .6 1.6
 Doctor/dentist/hospital .5 .7
 Pick up/deliver goods .4 .9
 Meetings .2 --
 School .2 .3
 Cleaners/laundry .1 .5
 EMPLOYER SERVICES/INCENTIVES AND COMMUTE MODES
 (in percent)
 Drive Carpool/
 Alone Transit Vanpool Other
 Helps form carpools/
 vanpools 67.5 13.6 14.7 4.2
 Offers preferential
 parking 67.8 10.5 16.9 4.6
 Guaranteed ride home
 program 68.1 11.8 13.9 6.1
 Provides transit
 information 70.2 13.5 12.1 4.2
 Sells transit passes 59.5 21.0 14.8 4.8
 Subsidizes transit passes 57.1 21.9 14.3 6.7
 TOTAL 74.4 12.6 8.5 4.4
 -0- 7/28/92
 /CONTACT: Lysa Hale or Sherrill Cook of RIDES for Bay Area Commuters, 415-861-7665/ CO: RIDES for Bay Area Commuters ST: California IN: TRN SU:


MM-LM -- SF003 -- 4019 07/28/92 11:02 EDT
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