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32. 1997 Economic Census

1033. National Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS)-- Summary of Travel Trends

[62,504 represents 62,504,000. Data obtained by collecting information on all trips taken by the respondent on a specific day (known as travel day), combined with longer trips taken over a 2-week period (known as travel period). Contains data from previous NPTS surveys. For compatibility with previous survey data, all data are based only on trips taken during travel day. Be aware that terminology changes from survey to survey. See source for details. For definitions of terms, see below]

Percent Percent
Characteristics Unit 1969 1977 1983 1990 1995 change, change,
1969-90 1969-95
   Households, total 1,000 62,504 75,412 85,371 93,347 98,990 49.0 58.4
1 person 1,000 10,980 16,214 19,354 22,999 24,732 109.0 125.2
2 persons 1,000 18,448 22,925 27,169 30,114 31,834 63.0 72.6
3 persons 1,000 10,746 13,046 14,756 16,128 16,827 50.0 56.6
4+ persons 1,000 22,330 23,227 24,092 24,106 25,597 8.0 14.6
   Persons, total 1,000 197,213 213,141 229,453 1 239,416 259,994 21.0 31.8
Under 16 yrs. old 1,000 60,100 54,958 53,682 54,303 61,411 -10.0 2.2
16-19 yrs. old 1,000 14,598 16,552 15,268 13,851 14,074 -5.0 -3.6
20-34 yrs. old 1,000 40,060 52,252 60,788 59,517 59,494 49.0 48.5
35-64 yrs. old 1,000 62,982 66,988 75,353 82,480 93,766 31.0 48.9
65 yrs. old and over 1,000 19,473 22,391 24,362 26,955 31,249 38.0 60.5
5 yrs. old and over 1,000 (NA) 198,434 212,932 222,101 241,675 12.0 (NA)
Males, total 1,000 94,465 102,521 111,514 114,441 126,553 21.0 34.0
16 yrs. old and over 1,000 66,652 74,542 83,645 86,432 95,627 30.0 43.5
Females 1,000 102,748 110,620 117,939 124,975 133,441 22.0 29.9
16 yrs. old and over 1,000 73,526 83,721 92,080 96,371 102,956 31.0 40.0
Licensed drivers 1,000 102,986 127,552 147,015 163,025 176,330 58.0 71.2
  Male 1,000 57,981 66,199 75,639 80,289 88,480 38.0 52.6
  Female 1,000 45,005 61,353 71,376 82,707 87,851 84.0 95.2
Workers 1,000 75,758 93,019 103,244 118,343 131,697 56.0 73.8
  Male 1,000 48,487 55,625 58,849 63,996 71,105 32.0 46.6
  Female 1,000 27,271 37,394 44,395 54,334 60,593 99.0 122.2
Households with--
  No vehicle 1,000 12,876 11,538 11,548 8,573 7,989 -33.0 -38.0
  One vehicle 1,000 30,252 26,092 28,780 30,654 32,064 1.0 6.0
  Two vehicles 1,000 16,501 25,942 28,632 35,872 40,024 117.0 142.6
  Three or more Vehicles 1,000 2,875 11,840 16,411 18,248 18,914 535.0 557.9
  All vehicles available 1,000 72,500 120,098 143,714 165,221 176,067 128.0 142.9
Vehicle trips Millions 87,284 108,826 126,874 158,927 229,745 82.0 163.2
Vehicle miles of travel (VMT) Millions 2 775,940 907,603 1,002,139 1,409,600 2,068,368 82.0 166.6
Person trips Millions 2 145,146 211,778 224,385 249,562 378,930 72.0 161.1
Person miles of travel Millions 1,404,137 1,879,215 1,946,662 2,315,300 3,411,122 65.0 142.9
Persons per household Number 3 3.16 2.83 2.69 2.56 2.63 (NA) (NA)
Vehicles per household Number 3 1.16 1.59 1.68 1.77 1.78 (NA) (NA)
Licensed drivers per household Number 3 1.65 1.69 1.72 1.75 1.78 (NA) (NA)
Vehicles per licensed driver Number 3 0.70 0.94 0.98 1.01 1.00 (NA) (NA)
Workers per household Number 3 1.21 1.23 1.21 1.27 1.33 (NA) (NA)
Vehicles per worker Number 3 0.96 1.29 1.39 1.40 1.34 (NA) (NA)
Daily vehicle trips per household Number 2 3 3.83 3.95 4.07 4.66 6.36 (NA) (NA)
Daily VMT per driver Number 2 3 20.64 19.49 18.68 23.69 32.14 (NA) (NA)
Average vehicle trip length (miles) Number 3 8.89 8.34 7.90 8.87 9.06 (NA) (NA)
Average annual VMT Miles 2 12,423 12,036 11,739 15,100 20,895 22.0 (NA)
  Home to work Miles 2 4,183 3,815 3,538 4,853 6,492 16.0 (NA)
  Shopping Miles 2 929 1,336 1,567 1,743 2,807 88.0 (NA)
  Other family or personal business Miles 2 1,270 1,444 1,816 3,014 4,307 137.0 (NA)
  Social and recreational Miles 2 4,094 3,286 3,534 4,060 4,764 -1.0 (NA)
Average annual vehicle trips Number 2 1,396 1,442 1,486 1,702 2321 22.0 (NA)
  Home to work Number 2 445 423 414 448 553 0.7 (NA)
  Shopping Number 2 213 268 297 345 501 62.0 (NA)
  Other family or personal business Number 2 195 215 272 411 626 111.0 (NA)
  Social and recreational Number 2 312 320 335 349 427 12.0 (NA)
Average vehicle trip length Miles 2 8.9 8.4 7.9 9.0 9.06 1.0 (NA)
  Home to work Miles 2 9.4 9.1 8.5 11.0 11.80 17.0 (NA)
  Shopping Miles 2 4.4 5.0 5.3 5.1 5.64 16.0 (NA)
  Other family or personal business Miles 2 6.5 6.8 6.7 7.4 6.93 14.0 (NA)
  Social and recreational Miles 2 13.1 10.3 10.5 11.8 11.24 -10.0 (NA)
Average vehicle occupancy 4 Persons (NA) 1.9 1.75 1.64 1.59 5 -1.3 (NA)
  Home to work Persons (NA) 1.29 1.14 1.1 1.14 5 -1.3 (NA)
  Shopping Persons (NA) 1.79 1.71 1.7 1.74 5 -1.6 (NA)
  Other family or personal business Persons (NA) 2.0 1.81 1.84 1.78 5 -0.8 (NA)
  Social and recreational Persons (NA) 2.4 2.12 2.08 2.04 5 -1.0 (NA)
Workers by usual mode to work Percent 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 (NS) (NS)
  Auto Percent 90.8 93.0 92.4 87.8 91.0 (NS) (NS)
  Public transit Percent 8.4 4.7 5.8 5.3 5.1 (NS) (NS)
  Other Percent 0.8 2.3 1.8 6.9 3.9 (NS) (NS)

NA Not available. NS Percent change irrelevant.
1 Includes "don't know" and "refusals".
2 Changes in summary methodology in 1995 reflects higher results in 1995 than would be had the survey been done exactly as in 1990.
3 Excludes pickups and other light-trucks as household vehicles.
4 Includes other purposes not shown separately.
5 Change from 1977.

Source: U.S. Federal Highway Administration, National Personal Transportation Survey, Summary of Travel Trends, 1969, 1977, 1983, 1990, and 1995. * Survey

Data for the 1990 NPTS were gathered between March 1990 and March 1991. The household response rate was 84 percent, which means that of all eligible households contacted, 84 percent participated in the survey. Within the survey households, trip and travel information was collected for 87 percent of eligible persons (household members age 5 and older). The sample consisted of 26,172 households with telephones identified through random-digit dialing procedures. From these, 21,869 unique household interviews were obtained. Each household in the sample was assigned a specific 24-hour "travel day" and a 14-day "travel period" for which detailed data on all travel were collected. Residents of the sampled households were interviewed as early as possible within the six-day period immediately following the designated travel day. Person-level interviews were completed for 47,499 of 54,313 eligible household residents. The NPTS data include information about the household and all persons who were members of the sampled household on the date the household interview was completed.

Interviewing Procedures

Research Triangle Institute (RTI) collected the 1990 NPTS data using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). RTI's interviewer staff screened 73,579 randomly selected telephone numbers to identify the 26,172 households included in the sample. When a household was identified, a household-level interview was conducted with an adult resident of the household. This interview obtained information on household vehicles, availability of public transportation, household location, and household income. In addition, a roster containing person data for each resident of the household was completed. A person-level interview was attempted for each resident 5 years old or older. Each person older than 13 years was asked to report all trips they had taken during the designated travel day, as well as trips of 75 miles or longer taken during the 14-day travel period ending on the travel day. A knowledgeable household resident, age 14 or older, was asked to report all trips taken by household members between the ages of 5 and 13 years. In addition, the person-level interview gathered data on occupation and work-related travel, driver information, and accidents.

* Glossary of Terms Used in NPTS

This glossary provides the most common terms used in the NPTS and definitions of those terms. The definitions are provided to assist the user in the interpretation of the data.

Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA) -- A metropolitan complex of I million or more population, containing two or more component parts designated as primary metropolitan statistical areas (PMSAs).

Destination -- For travel period trips, the destination is the farthest point of travel from the point of origin of a trip of 75 miles or more one-way.

For travel day trips, the destination is the point at which there is a break in travel.

Driver -- A person who operates a motorized vehicle. If more than one person drives on a single trip, the person who drives the most miles is classified as the principal driver.

Employed -- A person is considered employed if there is a definite arrangement for regular full-time or part-time work for pay every week or every month. A formal, definite arrangement with one or more employers to work a specified number of hours a week, or days a month, but on an irregular schedule during the work month is also considered employment. A person who is on call to work whenever there is a need for his (her) services is not considered employed.

Education Level -- The number of years of regular schooling completed in graded public, private, or parochial schools, or in colleges, universities, or professional schools, whether day school or night school. Regular schooling advances a person toward an elementary or high school diploma, or a college, university or professional school degree.

Household -- A group of persons whose usual place of residence is a specific housing unit; these persons may or may not be related to each other. The total of all U.S. households represents the total civilian non-institutionalized population. Does not include group quarters (i.e., 10 or more persons living together, none of whom are related).

Household Income -- The money income of all family members in a household, including those temporarily absent. Annual income is asked for the 12 months preceding the interview. Includes income from all sources, such as wages and salary, commissions, tips, cash bonuses, income from a business or farm, pensions, dividends, interest, unemployment or work men's compensation, social security, veterans' payments, rent received from owned property (minus the operating costs), public assistance payments, regular gifts of money from friends or relatives not living in the household, alimony, child support, and other kinds of periodic money income other than earnings. Excludes in-kind income such as room and board, insurance payments, lump-sum inheritances, occasional gifts of money from persons not living in the same household, withdrawal of savings from banks, tax refunds, and the proceeds of the sale of one's house, car or other personal property.

Household Members -- All people, whether present or temporarily absent, whose usual place of residence is in the sample unit. Includes people staying in the sample unit who have no other usual place of residence elsewhere.

Household Trip - One or more household members traveling together.

Household Vehicle -- A motorized vehicle that is owned, leased, rented or company owned and available to be used regularly by household members during the travel period. Includes vehicles used solely for business purposes or business-owned vehicles if kept at home and used for the home to work trip, (e.g., taxicabs, police cars, etc.) which may be owned by, or assigned to, household members for their regular use. Includes all vehicles that were owned or available for use by members of the household during the travel period even though a vehicle may have been sold before the interview. Excludes vehicles that were not working and not expected to be working within 60 days, and vehicles that were purchased or received after the designated travel day.

Iinterstate Highway, Freeway, or Expressway -- A divided arterial highway for through traffic with full or partial control of access and grade separations at major intersections.

Licensed Driver -- Any person who holds a valid driver's license from any state.

Means of Transportation -- A mode used for going from one place (origin) to another (destination). Includes private and public modes, as well as walking. For all travel day trips, each change of mode constitutes a separate trip. The following transportation modes, grouped by major mode, are included:

Private Vehicle

Automobile: A privately owned and/or operated licensed motorized vehicle including cars, jeeps and station wagons. Also includes leased and rented cars if they are privately operated and not picking up passengers in return for fare. Van: Privately owned and/or operated vans and mini vans designed to carry from 5 to 13 passengers or to haul cargo. Pickup Truck: A motorized vehicle, privately owned and/or operated, with an enclosed cab that usually accommodates 2-3 passengers and an open cargo area in the rear. Pickup trucks usually have about the some wheelbase as a full-size station wagon. Other Truck: All trucks other than pickups, i.e., dump trucks, trailer trucks, etc. RV or Motor Home: Includes self-powered recreational vehicles that are operated as a unit without being towed by another vehicle (e.g., a Winnebago motor home). Motorcycle: Includes large, medium, and small motorcycles. Does not include minibikes, which cannot be licensed for highway use.

Public Transportation

Bus: Includes intercity buses, mass transit systems, and shuttle buses that are available to the general public. Also includes Dial-A-Bus and Senior Citizen buses that are available to the public. Does not include shuttle buses operated by a government agency or private industry for the convenience of employees, contracted or chartered buses or school buses. Commuter Trains: Includes commuter trains and passenger trains other than elevated trains and subways. Includes local and commuter train service. Does not include intercity service by Amtrak. Streetcar/Trolley: Includes trolleys, streetcars, and cable cars. Elevated Rail/Subway: Includes elevated and subway trains in a city.

Other Modes

Airplane: Includes commercial airplanes and smaller planes that are available for use by the general public in exchange for a fare. Private planes and helicopters are included under "other." Taxi: The use of a taxicab by a driver for hire or by a passenger for fare. Also includes airport limousines. Does not include rental cars if they are privately operated and not picking up passengers in return for fare. Bicycles: Includes bicycles of all speeds and sizes that do not have a motor. The U.S. national passenger railroad service providing intercity train service. Walk: Includes jogging, walking, etc., provided the origin and destination are not the same. School bus: Includes county school buses, private school buses, and buses chartered from private companies for the express purposes of carrying students to or from school and/or school-related activities. MOPED (Motorized Bicycle) : Includes motorized bicycles equipped with a small engine, typically 2 horsepower or less. Also includes minibikes such as dirt bikes and trail bikes. Note that a motorized bicycle may or may not be licensed for highway use. Other. Includes any types of transportation not listed above.

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA): Except in the New England States, a Metropolitan Statistical Area is a county or group of contiguous counties which contains at least one city of 50,000 inhabitants or more, or "twin cities" with a combined population of at least 50,000. In addition, contiguous counties are included in an MSA if, according to certain criteria, they are socially and economically integrated with the central city. In the New England States, MSA's consist of towns and cities instead of counties.

Motorized Vehicle: Includes all vehicles that are licensed for highway driving. specifically excluded are snow mobiles, minibikes, etc.

Occupancy: The number of persons, including driver and passenger(s) in a vehicle.

NPTS occupancy rates are generally calculated as person miles divided by vehicle miles.

Origin: Starting point of a trip.

Passenger: For a specific trip, any occupant of a motorized vehicle, other than the driver.

Peak-period trip: Any travel day trip that began between 6:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. or from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Person Miles of Travel (PMT): A measure of person travel. When one person travels one mile, one person mile of travel results. Where 2 or more persons travel together in the same vehicle, each person makes the same number of person miles as the vehicle miles. Therefore, four persons traveling 5 miles in the same vehicle, make 4 times 5 or 20 person miles.

Person Trip: A person trip is a trip by one or more persons in any mode of transportation. Each person is considered as making one person trip. For example, four persons traveling together in one auto make four person trips.

Traffic Accident: An accident that involved a motor vehicle that occurred on a public highway or road in the United States and that resulted in property damage or personal injury. Does not include accidents that happened in a parking lot, in a driveway, on a private road, or in a foreign country.

Travel Day: A 24-hour period from 4:00 a.m. to 3:59 a.m. designated as the reference period for studying trips and travel by members of a sampled household.

Travel Period: The 13 days immediately preceding the travel day and the designated travel day for a sampled household, for a total of 14 days.

Travel Day Trip: A travel day trip is defined as any one-way travel from one address (place) to another by any means of transportation (e.g., private motor vehicle, public transportation, bicycle, or walking). When travel is to more than one destination, a separate trip exists each time one or both of the following criteria is satisfied: the travel time between two destinations exceeds 5 minutes, and/or the purpose for travel to one destination is different from the purpose for travel to another.

The one exception is travel within a shopping center or mall. It is to be considered travel to one destination, regardless of the number of stores visited.

Travel Period Trip: A travel period trip is one-way to a destination which is 75 miles-or-more from home with a return home trip during the 14-day travel period. Travel to the destination is counted as one trip and travel to return home is counted as another trip. For example, a person living in Denver flies to San Francisco, stays one week, and returns to Denver during the 14-day travel period. This would be counted as two travel period trips - one outgoing and one return. The only time a travel period trip would not have a return trip collected is when the respondent moves his/her residence.

Trip Purpose: The main reason that motivated the trip. For purposes of this survey, there are 11 trip reasons. For travel day trips, if there was more than one reason, and the reasons do not involve different destinations, then only the main reason is chosen. If there are two or more reasons, and they each involve different destinations, then each reason is classified as a separate trip. For travel period trips, if there was more than one reason, the primary reason was collected. The 11 trip reasons (grouped into the four major purposes) are defined as follows:

Earning a Living

To or from Work: Includes travel to a place where one reports for work. Does not include any other work-related travel. Work-related Business: Trips related to business activities except travel to the place of work; for example, a plumber drives to a wholesale dealer to purchase supplies for his business or a company executive travels from his office to another firm to attend a business meeting. Business, out- of-town trips, and professional conventions are also included.

Family and Personal Business

Shopping: Includes "window-shopping" and purchase of commodities such as groceries, furniture, clothing, etc. for use or consumption elsewhere. Doctor/Dentist: Trips made for medical, dental, or psychiatric treatment or other related professional services. Other family or personal business: Includes the purchase of services such as cleaning garments, servicing an automobile, haircuts, banking, legal services, etc.

School or Church

School/Church: Trips to school, college or university for class(es), to PTA meetings, seminars, etc., to church services or to participate in other religious activities. Social activities that take place at a church or school but cannot be classified as religious or educational are not included in this category.

Social and Recreational

Vacation: Trips reported by the respondent as "vacation." Visit friends or relatives: Trips made to visit friends or relatives. Pleasure driving: Driving trips made with no other purpose listed but to "go for a drive" with no destination in mind. Other social or recreational: Trips taken to enjoy some form of social activity involving friends or acquaintances. Includes trips for general entertainment or recreation (both as observer or as participant).


Other: For trips that do not fit in any of the other categories.

Urbanized Area: An approximate classification of sample households as belonging to an urbanized area or not. Those classified as belonging to an urbanized area were either a central city of an MSA, or a MSA but outside the central city, and within a zip code area with a population density of at least 500 people per square mile in 1990.

Vehicle: In the 1969 survey, vehicle refers to autos and passenger vans owned or available to the household. In the 1977, 1983, and 1990 surveys, the term vehicle was expanded to include pickups and other light trucks, RV's motorcycles and mopeds owned or available to the household. Estimates show that in 1969 there were an additional 7.5 million pickups and other light trucks that are not reflected in the 1969 NPTS data.

Vehicle Mile of Travel (VMT): A unit to measure vehicle travel made by a private vehicle, such as an automobile, van, pickup truck, or motorcycle. Each mile traveled is counted as one vehicle mile regardless of the number of persons in the vehicle.

Vehicle Occupancy: The number of persons, including driver and passenger(s) in a vehicle; also includes persons who did not complete a whole trip. NPTS occupancy rates are generally calculated as person miles divided by vehicle miles.

Vehicle Trip: A trip by a single vehicle regardless of the number of persons in the vehicle.

Vehicle Type: For purposes of the 1990 NPTS, one of the nine vehicle types used for coding purposes in the household motorized vehicle record. The nine types are:

1.Automobile (including station wagon) 2.Passenger Van 3.Cargo Van 4.Pickup Truck (including pickup with camper) 5.Other Truck 6.RV or Motor Home 7.Motorcycle 8.Moped (Motorized Bicycle) 9.Other (Specify).

See "Means of Transportation" for definitions of these vehicle types.

These tables are based on figures supplied by the United States Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce and are subject to revision by the Census Bureau.

Copyright © 2006 Photius Coutsoukis and Information Technology Associates, all rights reserved.