Local News

Census: Triangle Drivers Not Interested In Carpooling, Mass Transit

Posted August 6, 2001

— Every evening in the Triangle, Interstate 40 is packed for rush hour. Obviously, the drivers are not participating in mass transit. New census numbers also show most of them are not carpooling.

Many commuters will spend well over an hour every day commuting, but if census figures are correct, they would not have it any other way.

According to the census, since 1990, the average national commute has inched up from 22.4 to 24 minutes -- one way.

"For that commute to increase less than 10 percent, I find that surprising. I think most people in the Triangle would too," said Ron Hughes, a research psychologist with the Highway Safety Research Center.

Hughes said the Triangle is traveling the same road as many bigger metropolitan areas: too many vehicles and not enough roads.

"Those commutes are inevitably going to get longer and slower, and congestion is going to get worse," said Hughes.

They will get worse because of what commuters will sacrifice to achieve their dreams.

"I have lived in or around big cities all the time, and I get tired of cities. I'd rather live somewhere else where it's quiet and I can relax when I get home," said Frank Chambers.

Chambers lives in Johnston County, and has at least a 45 minute drive to Research Triangle Park.

"It's nicer for me. It's almost like going on vacation when I go home," said Chambers.

He tried carpooling but did not care for it.

"It got to be a headache when someone had to stay late or come in early. It kind of messed up the whole deal," said Chambers.

"It's that sense of independence, that I want to leave when I want to. We prefer to drive, and we prefer to drive alone," said Hughes.

That mindset has North Carolina ranked 15th in the number of drivers who drive alone, and 42nd in the nation for workers who use public transportation.


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