A report about commuting patterns, non-work travel, and opinions and attitudes around travel of Arlington residents, with a unique spotlight on trends and conditions prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s inside the 2021 Arlington Resident Travel Survey
The Arlington Resident Travel Survey documents a profile of commute patterns, non-work travel and opinions and attitudes around travel of Arlington residents. Similar surveys were conducted in 2009 and 2015. Since the survey was conducted in 2021 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the survey collected additional information about travel pre-pandemic and expected travel post-pandemic to provide more context of travel patterns in 2021.
Who was surveyed?
The Arlington Resident Travel Survey was conducted in 2021 and collected a total of 4,213 responses. Using an address-based sampling method, Arlington residents who were 18 years old and older at the time of the survey were invited to take the survey. The sample responses comprised 3,194 employed residents and 1,019 unemployed residents.
What are some key findings about commute trips?
- A majority (53%) of employed respondents reported teleworking in the summer of 2021. This was considerably larger compared to prior to the pandemic, when only 27% of residents teleworking one day or more in February of 2020. Of those that were teleworking, respondents had positive things to say about teleworking: 79% said they were productive while teleworking while 53% reported feeling less stressed.
- Most respondents reported that they were likely to resume their pre-pandemic commute mode after the pandemic: 81% who drove alone, 82% who used transit, and 71% who biked or walked indicated they would do the same after the pandemic.
- Mode choice for commuting varied for residents of different areas in Arlington. Residents of Route 1 and Rosslyn-Ballston corridors had the lowest rates of commuting by drive alone: 20% and 25%, respectively. Drive alone to work was more prevalent among residents of Columbia Pike (41%) and Other South (42%). Other South represented areas south of Route 50 and not in any of the other Arlington areas explicitly identified (i.e., Rosslyn-Ballston, Columbia Pike, Route 1, Shirlington).
What are some key findings about non-work trips?
- Modes chosen for non-work trips tend to mirror commute modes: 64% of transit commuters use transit for non-work trips, 69% of bike commuters ride a bike for non-work trips, and 83% of those who walked to work walking for non-work trips.
- Transit use for non-work trips declined compared to 2015, when the last Arlington Resident Survey was conducted: 68% saying they had used transit at least occasionally for a non-work trip in 2021, a decrease from the 87% of respondents who said they had done so in 2015.
- Reported bike trips for non-work trips was similar to what was reported in 2015, with 40% saying they had biked for non-work trips in 2015 and 38% saying so in 2021.
- Respondents reported walking more for non-work trips since the pandemic began with 34% walking somewhat more and 22% walking much more. Use of biking and driving alone for non-work trips also increased, with a net increase of 12% and 23% respectively. Transit use declined for non-work trips with a net decline of 62%.
What are some key findings about Arlington residents’ opinions and attitudes about travel?
- When asked about factors or issues that limit willingness or ability to use transit, the most commonly reported issues were about time or distance (58%). Many felt they would have to wait too long for transit (37%) or that the trip would take too long (35%).
- When asked about barriers to bike use, 66% mentioned concerns about traffic or safety and 37% mentioned concerns about the network of bike paths or bike lanes.
- Respondents rated quality of life, transportation satisfaction and transportation needs very highly. On a scale of 1 (“Poor”) to 5 (“Excellent), half of respondents gave quality of life an “Excellent” rating and 42% rated it as a 4. When asked about Arlington’s transportation system, 71% reported being satisfied. When asked about the most important transportation needs in the county, issues around transit expansion or enhanced service reliability came up in 48% of responses.
- Residents of Rosslyn-Ballston and Route 1 had the highest satisfaction ratings when asked about how satisfied they were with transportation available in Arlington County (81% and 75%, respectively). Residents of other areas reported high satisfaction but at lower levels: only 64% in Shirlington, 64% in Other South, and 58% in Columbia Pike.
What are some key findings about travel resources and information available to Arlington residents?
- When asked about if they had heard of various organizations that provide travel information and assistance in Arlington County, 83% of respondents knew of at least one of the organizations. The Commuter Store and BikeArlington were two organizations that had the highest level of awareness, with 68% knowing the Commuter Store and 61% knowing BikeArlington.
- Most respondents (80%) reported that there was at least one worksite commute assistance program available to them. Transit subsidies and secure bike parking were the most commonly offered services with 65% reporting transit subsidies and 50% reporting bicycle parking.
- Bikeshare had the lowest membership among respondents from Shirlington, with only 13% of those respondents who knew about Bikeshare reporting that they had a membership. Rosslyn-Ballston (37%) and Route 1 (38%) had the highest membership of respondents who had heard of Bikeshare and reported having a membership. Shirlington in general reported lower rates of availability of various transportation services with only 32% of those respondents indicating any residential service was available.
- More than half (53%) of respondents had heard or seen something about the Car-Free Diet marketing campaign. Of those who knew about the Car-Free Diet 3% started a new non-drive alone mode and 18% said they used more non-drive-alone transportation modes.
This study, and the results found inside, provide data driven insights about Arlington County residents as well as the impact of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) efforts over time. It provides data and information that help illustrate the impact that TDM planning can have on a local community and provides an interesting account and context to travel behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic.