The State of the Commute is a report on the commuting behavior, prevalent attitudes and awareness of transportation services, and commute assistance services, of those who live and work in Arlington County, Virginia. Below are some top-level highlights from the report.
Commute mode split of Arlington residents and Arlington workers
- In 2019, Arlington residents’ drive alone rate was 41% of weekly commute trips, which was significantly below the 57% rate for all regional employees.
- Arlington residents’ transit use (40% of weekly commute trips) was well above the regional average of 24% in 2019.
- The share of bike/walk trips also was considerably higher for Arlington residents (8%) than for the region as a whole (3%), in 2019.
- The commuting by drive alone mode share of Arlington residents fell three percentage points from 2016 to 2019, continuing the long-term decline from 52% in 2007 to 41% in 2019. This represented a drop of 11 percentage points over the 12-year period.
- Arlington workers made just 47% of their weekly commute trips by driving alone in 2019, 13 percentage points below the 60% drive alone rate in 2007.
- Among Arlington workers, transit use accounted for three in ten (31%) weekly commute trips in 2019, a substantial increase over the 23% transit rate in 2007.
- Commuters who worked in Arlington also made fewer work trips by driving alone (47%) than did all regional workers and made more weekly commute trips by transit (31%).
- Arlington workers also were notable for their high use of carpool/vanpool; they made about 10% of weekly commute trips by these modes, compared with 5% of commuters regionwide. Four in ten Arlington workers who carpooled/ vanpooled used a casual carpool/slug-line to find their carpool partners.
- Three in ten (29%) Arlington residents who started using an alternative mode in the past three years previously drove alone. The percentage of shifts from driving alone was higher among respondents who worked in Arlington (43%).
Commute characteristics of Arlington residents and Arlington workers
- Commuters who lived in Arlington traveled much shorter distances, an average of only 7.9 miles one-way. Three-quarters (75%) traveled fewer than 10 miles and only 9% traveled 20 or more miles.
- Commuters who worked in Arlington traveled 16.2 miles one-way, much closer to the regional average distance and more than one-third (37%) traveled 20 or more miles one-way.
- The 31-minute average travel time for commuters who lived in Arlington was less than the regional average of 43 minutes, but not proportionately shorter considering the difference in average commuting miles. Commuters who worked in Arlington spent a similar amount of time commuting (45 minutes) as did all regional commuters.
- Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Arlington residents said they lived less than one-half mile from a bus stop and 74% said they lived less than one mile away. Among respondents who could provide a distance to a bus stop, the average distance was 0.4 miles. Among respondents who could provide a distance to a rail station, the average distance was 1.4 miles on average.
- In 2019, 41% of Arlington resident commuters (61,700 commuters) teleworked at least occasionally. This telework percentage was higher than the 35% telework rate for all regional commuters.
- In 2007, 22% of Arlington resident commuters teleworked. By 2013, the percentage had risen to 30%. It grew still further to 41% in 2019.
- Telework increased among commuters who worked in Arlington, with growth from 20% in 2007 to 35% in 2019.
- Among all Arlington workers, 69% said some form of telework was permitted at their workplace; 33% said their employer had a formal telework program and 36% said telework was permitted under informal arrangements between a supervisor and employee.
- Both telework generally and formal telework were common among Arlington resident respondents; three-quarters said some telework was allowed; 38% said their employers had a formal telework program and 38% said their employers permitted informal telework.
- Among Arlington residents, 61% of non-teleworkers had jobs that were telework-appropriate while 59% of non-teleworks who worked in Arlington said telework would be a feasible option.
Level of satisfaction with commute
- Regionwide, 28% of respondents said in 2019 that their commute was more difficult than the previous year and 15% said it was easier. Respondents who lived in Arlington were slightly less likely than were commuters regionwide to say their commute was more difficult (22%), and slightly more likely to say it was easier (18%). The results for respondents who worked in Arlington were similar to those for the region; 18% of respondents had an easier commute and 31% had a more difficult commute.
- Forty-nine percent of Arlington resident respondents gave a high rating for their satisfaction with the regional transportation system. Fourteen percent gave a rating of 5 (Very satisfied) and 35% gave a rating of 4. Satisfaction ratings were lower for respondents who worked in Arlington and for respondents regionwide; only 43% of Arlington workers and just 36% of all regional respondents rated their satisfaction as a 4 or 5.
- Higher shares of Arlington resident respondents who bicycled or walked to work (67%) and those who rode bus (68%) or train (50%) rated their satisfaction as a 4 or 5 than did commuters who drove alone (42%) or car pooled/vanpooled (35%) to work.
- Among respondents who worked in Arlington, bicycle/walk commuters (65%), train riders (59%) and bus riders (56%) again were more satisfied than were carpool/ vanpool riders (45%) or respondents who commuted to Arlington worksites by driving alone (31%).
Perceived benefits from using alternative modes
- When asked what benefits a region or community receives from use of alternative modes, 79% of Arlington residents and 74% of Arlington workers named at least one benefit. The most-named benefit was reducing traffic congestion; 74% of Arlington residents and 69% of Arlington workers cited this benefit.
- When respondents who used alternative modes for their commute were asked what personal benefits they received from using these modes, nine in ten Arlington residents (90%) and Arlington workers (90%) named at least one benefit. Saving money topped the list of personal benefit, with 40% of residents and 27% of workers mentioning this benefit. Reducing stress was named, by 22% of residents and 35% of Arlington workers.
Availability and use of employer-provided commute assistance services
- More than seven in ten (73%) Arlington resident commuters and an even higher share, 77%, of respondents who worked in Arlington said their employers offered one or more alternative mode benefits or support services to employees at their worksites. In comparison, only 60% of all regional commuters who said they had access to these services.
- The most commonly offered service was SmarTrip/subsidies for transit and vanpool, mentioned by 45% of all regional workers, but a considerably higher share (59%) of Arlington workers. Other services commonly mentioned by Arlington workers included information on commuter transportation options, available to 39% of respondents, services for bikers and walkers (28%), Guaranteed Ride Home (17%), and bikeshare memberships (15%).
- About 57% of Arlington workers whose employers offered commute services said they had used one or more of the available services.
- The most commonly used benefit among Arlington workers was transit/vanpool (59%). 42% of respondents who had access to commute information had used it, while 32% had used a carpool subsidy. Biking/walk services were used 23% and 16% took advantage of bikeshare memberships.
- 37% of Arlington workers had free worksite parking.
- For Arlington workers, when parking was free and commute services were not offered, 79% drove alone to work. When parking wasn’t free and commute services were offered, only 38% drove alone.
Use of technology-based applications to access travel/trip information
- Ninety-one percent of Arlington resident respondents had used at least one of ten travel/trip information apps/services. The most commonly used were wayfinding or mapping applications, such as Google Maps and Waze, used by 73% of Arlington residents, and applications for ride-hail services such as Uber, Lyft, or Via, used by 69%. About half (51%) had used an application that tracked transit schedules or provided “next bus/train” information on arrival time and 47% used traffic alerts delivered via text message or other means.
- The only application that exhibited an increasing pattern with increasing age was traffic alerts; 64% of respondents who were 55 years or older had used this application, compared with just 39% of respondents who were younger than 35 years.
Interested in learning more? Download the 2021 Arlington Resident Travel Survey and Special Analysis report here: 2019 State of the Commute Survey