Some new-ish Census figures on commuting habits in 2008 suggest that Washington may be the Northwest’s leader in alternatives to driving. Or possibly Alaska, depending on how you count.
Driving alone is still the dominant mode of commuting, but all five Northwest states have less solo driving than the national average.
When it comes to carpooling, the region’s leader is Idaho. But again, all five Northwest states have more carpooling than the national average.
If Idaho’s leadership in carpooling is surprising, perhaps it shouldn’t be. Very often, states with driving-centric transportation systems tend to perform well on carpooling, which can be the most practical way for commuters to avoid solo driving.
But in public transportation, Washington is the only Northwest state that does better than the national average.
Washington’s ranking here is probably due in large part to the fact that the state is more populous and urbanized than other US Northwest jurisdictions. Obviously, transit ridership tends to be higher in places where there are robust transit systems, which in turn tend to be located in urban areas.
I’ve got no big-picture analysis here, I just thought it was interesting. And somebody should explain Alaska to me.