As I mentioned in my last post, Seattle and Portland have very similar commuting patterns. The biggest difference between the two cities is that Seattle has higher rates of transit commuting, and lower shares of drive-alone commuters, than Portland.
But there are plenty of interesting tidbits about the demographics of transit buried in the commuting data.
Transit and Gender
In both Seattle and Portland, women are more likely than men to commute by transit.
Just to be a numbers geek for a moment: in both Portland and Seattle, women represent just under half of all workers, but slightly more than half of all transit commuters.
Finding this article interesting? Donate now to support our independent research!
Transit and Race
In both Portland and Seattle, people of color are more likely than Whites to take transit to work. Native American, Black, and Asian commuters all have higher rates of transit commuting than Whites.
(I should note that I excluded a few categories from the chart above, because the numbers were too small to be reliable. And the chart only shows people who claimed only one race on the census forms. In both cities, respondents with “two or more races” are 2-3 percentage points more likely than Whites to commute by transit.)
Transit Commuting and Age
In both Portland and Seattle, young people are more likely than older people to take transit to work. Transit commuting declines through middle age, then flattens out.
Transit and Renting
In both Portland and Seattle, renters—or, in census terminology, people who live in “renter-occupied housing units”—are substantially more likely than homeowners to use transit to get to work.
Transit Commuting and Income
One chart to rule them all: the relationship between income and transit commuting offers a potential (though partial) explanation for all of the trends above. In both cities, transit commuting rates fall as annual income increases, though the effect is more marked and more uniform in Portland than in Seattle.
In both Portland and Seattle, being low-income, young, a woman, non-white, and/or a renter increases the odds that you’ll commute by transit.
I don’t want to read too much into the political implications. But looking at the numbers, you might be forgiven for wondering if certain folks who think that we spend too much on transit don’t run in the same sorts of social circles as people who rely on transit to get to work.