Lots of people in the Houston area could not easily get to work if their car were not available to them.
According to a new report from the Brookings Institution, only 57.8 percent of the jobs in the entire Houston metro area are in neighborhoods with access to public transit service.
When ranked against the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the nation, Houston was No. 82 in terms of the share of jobs that were in reach of public transit service.
When compared to other cities, Houston fared better on its percentage of labor population that could use public transportation to reach their employer within 90 minutes. In the city, 22.5 percent of the working population could reach their office by using public transportation within 90 minutes, placing it No. 56 on the national list.
You can see a sorted list of MSAs here and the study itself here. For the most part, it’s the suburban areas that lack transit options, especially if you have to get from one suburb to another. I suspect one reason Houston has a mediocre score isn’t so much because bus coverage is inadequate but because bus trips can be time consuming, especially if you have to transfer. I’m just guessing, though.
At our house, Tiffany works downtown and takes the bus most days. I do kid dropoff and pickup and I work near the Astrodome, so I drive. Out of curiosity I went to Metro’s trip planner to see what a transit commute would look like for me. The shortest trip suggested, which involved taking the Montrose Crosstown bus to the Hermann Park/Rice U light rail stop and catching the train from there, was estimated at 42 minutes. If I’m still working in the same place when the North Line extension is finished, I could hie myself over to the Quitman station after dropping off the kids, and from there I’d estimate it would be about a 30 minute trip, assuming that the North Line continues on Main Street instead of requiring a transfer. I’d contemplate parking my car near school and riding my bike to Quitman, but I know from personal experience that you can’t bring your bike on board the train before 9 AM, which unfortunately makes commuting that way impractical. Ah well, maybe that will change by 2014. Anyway, at least I’d have options. WonkBlog has more on the Brookings study.