Arlington County’s Oversample and Special Analysis of the 2017/2018 MWCOG Regional Travel Survey is a comprehensive report on household and individual travel behavior and patterns, demographic information, and commute assistance services of those who live in Arlington County, Virginia.
The report uses data from the 2017/2018 MWCOG Regional Travel Survey, which is a detailed travel survey of households in the DC region periodically conducted by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG). As an add-on to the 2017/2018 survey, Arlington supported additional surveys across Arlington County in order to get a detailed view of travel patterns around the county.
Below are some top-level highlights from the report.
Demographic profile of Arlington
- Single-person households account for the largest share in Arlington, comprising of 38% of all households. This is followed by 2-person households at 33% and households with three or more persons at 29%.
- The average household size is 2.1 persons.
- Arlington residents between the ages of 35 to 64 years old account for the largest share, at 39%. Those between the ages of 19 to 34 years old account for 27% of residents. Children, or those below 19 years old, account for 21% of residents. Seniors (65 years old or older) comprise 12% of residents.
- The average age of residents in Arlington is 36.9 years old.
- The majority of Arlington residents live in multi-family housing – 57% of Arlington households reported living in a multi-family building. Of the remaining, a larger share of Arlington households live in single-family detached homes (30% of households) than single-family attached homes (13%).
- Almost half of all households in Arlington are renters (45%).
- Vehicle ownership is at 1.3 vehicles per household in Arlington, on average.
- Half of Arlington households have one vehicle (51%). Households with two vehicles account for 28% of all households, while households with 3 or more vehicles account for the smallest share at 8%.
- Car-less households (households who do not have a vehicle) account for 12% of all households in Arlington, without accounting for whether there are licensed drivers in the household.
- Car-free households are defined as households who have licensed drivers and yet do not report having a car. In Arlington, 97.5% of households have at least one licensed driver, but that leaves 2.5% of households that actually have no licensed driver and do not have a car. Thus, computing for the number of vehicles per licensed driver per household provides a normalized figure for a household’s access to a vehicle. While majority of Arlington households have one or more vehicles per driver (67%), 10% of households have zero vehicles per driver. Based on the findings, 23% of households have less than one vehicle per driver.
- About half of Arlington households own at least one bicycle (49%). Among households that own bicycles, there is a larger share that own at least two bicycles (26%) than those that own only one bicycle (23%).
- A majority of Arlington households have a household income of $100,000 or more (65%). One out of four households report a household income between $50,000 and $99,999 (25%). One in ten households in Arlington reported a household income less than $50,000 (10%).
Demographic profile of Arlington planning areas
- Households in the metro corridors of Rosslyn-Ballston (1.8 persons on average).
- Single-person households comprise Rosslyn-Ballston (42%). Two-person households comprise the largest share in Rosslyn-Ballston (46%).
- In terms of age distribution in each planning area, young adults (19- to 34-year-olds) tend to reside in Rosslyn-Ballston corridor (46% of Rosslyn-Ballston corridor’s population)
- Rosslyn-Ballston reported the highest share of households living in multi-family housing (97%),
- Rosslyn-Ballston where 1 out 3 residents identify as non-white.
- Of those that did not identify as white, residents who identify as Asians comprise the largest share of non-white residents in Rosslyn-Ballston (17%)
- Residents who identify as African American or Black in Rosslyn-Ballston (6%).
- Rosslyn, 27% of households did not have a vehicle for each driver in the household
Route 1 corridor:
- Households in Route 1 tend to be smaller (1.8 persons on average).
- Single-person households comprise Route 1 (46%)
- In terms of age distribution in each planning area, young adults (19- to 34-year-olds) tend to reside in Route 1 corridor (42% of Route 1 corridor’s population).
- Majority of households reported living in multi-family housing in Route 1 (84%)
- Of those that did not identify as white, residents who identify as Asians comprise the largest share of non-white residents in and Route 1 (14%).
- Households did not have a vehicle for each driver in the household and in Route 1 the share was 20%.
- Columbia Pike households reported the second highest average household size of 2.2 persons.
- Larger households with three or more persons tend to be reported in Columbia Pike (31%)
- The share of children and those below the age of 19 is Columbia Pike (21% of Columbia Pike’s population).
- Larger shares of seniors reside in or Columbia Pike (11% of Columbia Pike’s population).
- Majority of households reported living in multi-family housing in Columbia Pike (62%).
- Columbia Pike has the largest share of residents who identify as non-white (35%),
- Columbia Pike has the largest share of residents who identify as Hispanic (14%).
- The largest share of households who earn less than $50,000 are in Columbia Pike (17%),
- Single-person households comprise the largest shares in Shirlington (59%),
- Larger shares of seniors reside in Shirlington (12% of Shirlington’s population),
- Majority of households reported living in multi-family housing in Shirlington (81%)
- Shirlington has the smallest share of non-white residents, with only 13% of residents identifying as non-white
- Shirlington has the largest share of residents who identify as African American or Black (7%),
All other areas outside of the four planning areas above:
- For areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”), the average household size tends to be bigger (2.4 persons on average).
- Larger households with three or more persons in areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”) (41%).
- The share of children and those below the age of 19 is largest in Other Arlington (28% of Other Arlington population)
- Households in “Other Arlington” reported the lowest share of multi-family housing (28%). Households in areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”) tend to live in single-family homes (72%).
- The highest share of households who report a household income of $100,000 or more are households in areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”) (73%).
Trip purposes and destinations
- With the exception of trips to sleep/eat at home, the most frequently cited purpose of trips is work/work-related, which accounted for 17% of all trips taken by Arlington residents.
- Shop/errand trips were the third most popular trip purpose, which make up 10% of trips.
- 73% of Arlington residents’ trips are home-based, which are trips that start or end at home. Of these home-based trips, 20% are work trips and 15% are shop trips.
- 27% of trips made by Arlington residents start and end away from home.
- Arlington residents make the majority of their trips to an Arlington location (71%). The second most popular destination for trips is Washington, DC (12%), followed by Fairfax County (10%) and Alexandria (3%). Only 2% of trips have destinations in Maryland.
- When trips to Arlington are disaggregated by destination: 36% are trips to areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”), 17% are trips to Rosslyn-Ballston, 10% are trips to Columbia Pike, 6% are trips to Route 1, and 2% are trips to Shirlington.
- Arlington residents make 53% of their trips completely within Arlington. This is defined as trips where the origin location and destination location are both within Arlington.
- With the exception of trips that start and end in Arlington, when considering trips that end in Arlington that are made by all Arlington residents, Washington, DC was the most frequently reported origin of trips to Arlington (10%), followed by other areas in Virginia: 9% originated from Fairfax County, 3% originated from Alexandria, and 2% from other parts of Virginia. Only 1% of trips to Arlington started in Maryland.
- When trips that end in Arlington planning corridors are analyzed, trips to Rosslyn-Ballston corridor have the highest share of trips that start from areas in Arlington (77%), followed by trips to Columbia Pike (74%). For trips that ended in areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”), trips that originated from Arlington accounted for 76%. Conversely, trips to Shirlington comprised the largest share of trips that originated from outside of Arlington.
- With the exception of trips to sleep/eat at home, the most popular trip purpose of trips made by Arlington residents that had Arlington as the destination were to pick-up/drop-off someone (9%) and shop/ errand trips (9%). Trips to school/daycare accounted for 7% of trips to Arlington, while work/work-related trips accounted for 6%. Leisure activities comprised smaller shares of trips made by Arlington residents that ended in Arlington: 5% was to eat away from home, 3% was to an exercise activity, and social/entertainment trips and recreation trips collectively account for 2% of trips.
- Drive alone trips account for the largest share of all daily trips taken by Arlington residents (35%).
- Drive/ride with others which account for 27% of all daily trips.
- 22% of trips are made by walking.
- Trips taken by transit such as Metro and bus account for 10% of all daily trips (8% of trips are taken by Metro, and 2% are taken by bus).
- Bicycle trips comprised only 2% of daily trips made by Arlington residents.
- Ridehailing accounted for only 1% of all daily trips taken by Arlington residents.
- Arlington residents’ share of drive alone trips is lower than for regionwide data (35% vs. 60%).
- In terms of non-SOV modes for daily trips, Arlington residents use public transit more than the region-wide level: 10% of trips made by Arlington residents are by Metro and bus, which is higher than the regional share of 4% combined for Metro and Bus trips.
- For Arlington residents, walk trips account for 22% of all daily trips, which is higher than the region-wide level of 8%.
- Arlington residents drive alone most often for shop/errand trips (51%).
- Work/work-related trips account for 43% of all trips, slightly higher than trips to exercise (43%).
- Shop/errand trips was the only kind of trip where driving alone was the prevailing mode (51%).
- All other trip purposes had a drive alone rate below 50%.
- Arlington residents drive or ride with others most often for pick-up/drop-off trips (53%), recreation trips (48%), and healthcare and adult care trips (47%). A smaller proportion of Arlington residents drive/ride with others for work/work-related trips (7%) and airport or train/bus terminal trips (6%).
- Arlington residents use transit primarily for work/work-related trips (26%) and to go to the airport or train/bus terminal (12%). Transit includes trips made using the following modes: Metro, local bus, commuter rail, express commuter bus, shuttle bus. A smaller share of Arlington residents use transit for pick-up/drop-off trips (2%), exercise trips (3%), and trips to school/daycare (3%). For Arlington residents who travel by Metro 82% walk to access the Metro, while 76% walk to access the bus.
- Arlington residents walk most often for meals away from home (42%), followed by for socialize/ entertainment trips (26%) and trips to an exercise activity (25%). Around one in four school/daycare trips is made by walking (24%). One in five work/work-related trips is made by walking (20%). Only a small proportion of Arlington residents walk for healthcare and adult care trips (9%).
- Arlington residents use ridehailing most often for trips to the airport or train/bus terminal (19%). Ridehailing is used for other purposes but at very small shares below 5%, for example: socialize/entertainment trips (4%), recreation trips (2%) and healthcare and adult care (2%). Ridehailing for work/work-related trips only accounted for 1%, the same level as trips to eat away from home (1%).
- For trips entirely within Arlington, Arlington residents mostly drive/ride with others (31%) or walk (31%). Arlington residents are most likely to make the trip by driving alone if the trip starts in Arlington (46%) or if the trip ends in Arlington (47%).
- Compared to trips within Arlington, transit use is higher for trips where Arlington is either the origin or the destination, but not both (23% and 22%, respectively, compared to only 4% of trips within Arlington). Transit includes trips made using the following modes: Metro, local bus, commuter rail, express commuter bus, shuttle bus. Arlington residents mostly walk for trips taking place entirely outside Arlington (41%).
- Trips made by walking account for the largest share of trips made by residents of Rosslyn-Ballston (30%) and Route 1 (32%), compared to other modes.
- Trips made by using transit also account for a higher share of trips for residents of Rosslyn-Ballston (22%) and Route 1 (17%) compared to residents of other areas in Arlington.
- For Shirlington residents, 44% of trips are made by driving alone, the highest proportion compared to share of drive alone of residents of other Arlington planning areas.
- Columbia Pike residents report making 37% of trips by driving alone.
- Residents of areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”) make 39% of trips by driving alone.
- Trips made by driving/riding with others also account for the second highest share of trips for residents of the same three areas of Columbia Pike (29%), Shirlington (25%) and areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”) (32%).
- Based on the work location reported by respondents, 74% of employed Arlington residents travel outside Arlington to work. The largest share travels to Washington, DC for work (39%), followed by Fairfax, VA (22%). Only around 1 in 4 Arlington residents travel within Arlington to work (26%). Other work destinations are areas within the region, such as Maryland (6%) and Alexandria, VA (4%).
- Across the entire County, the top mode for work trips is driving alone (43%), followed by transit (29%).
- When the shares of employees who bike (4%) or walk (6%) to work are taken together, active transportation is the third most popular mode for work trips with a combined share of 10%.
- Those who drive or ride with others (including carpool and vanpool) account for 7% of employed Arlington residents.
- Only 1% travel to work via taxi or ridehailing service. Employed Arlington residents who have a work at home arrangement account for 8% of mode split, based on the information collected in 2017 and 2018 when the survey was conducted.
- 55% of Arlington workers are eligible to telework.
- Among eligible workers, around 1 in 5 took zero telework days (22%). For those who opted to telework, these workers tend to telework for less than 4 weekdays per month (34%) or 1-2 weekdays a week (33%). Only a small percentage of workers who telecommuted for most of the week, with 6% telecommuting 3-4 weekdays a week and 3% telecommuting 5 weekdays a week.
Travel by Arlington planning area
- Columbia Pike and Shirlington are primarily “go-home” destinations. In Columbia Pike and Shirlington, over half of trips made by Arlington residents were categorized as sleep/eat at home trips (57% and 57%, respectively are sleep/eat at home trips).
- Residents of areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”) also reported 54% of trips as sleep/eat at home trips.
- 30% of Route 1 corridor and Shirlington trips are for shopping/errands and eating. Shirlington is the top destination for “eat away from home” trips (13%), followed by Rosslyn-Ballston corridor (9%) and Route 1 corridor (7%). The same areas are also the top destinations for shop/errand trips, with Route 1 accounting for the highest share at 30%, followed by Rosslyn-Ballston corridor (27%).
- Route 1 corridor (14%) and Rosslyn-Ballston corridor (11%) accounted for high shares of work/work-related trips among Arlington residents. The two corridors are areas in Arlington with a high concentration of commercial buildings and establishments.
- Majority of trips to Arlington Areas are less than two miles. With the exception for trips to Shirlington, where 54% of trips are at least 2 miles.
- Around 1 in 10 trips to Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, Columbia Pike are 6 miles or longer.
- Around 1 in 10 trips to areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”) are 6 miles or longer.
- Around one in four trips to Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and Route 1 corridor are drive alone (25% and 23%, respectively), the lowest among Arlington planning areas.
- Drive/ride with others outnumber drive alone trips to Columbia Pike (36% compared to 32% drive alone trips), the only one among the planning areas; everywhere else, the share of drive alone trips are larger.
- Walk trips account for at least double the share of transit trips of trips to Arlington planning areas. Walk trips comprise around 1 of 3 trips to Rosslyn-Ballston corridor (34%), and 46% of trips to Route 1 corridor.
- Trips to Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and Route 1 corridor account for the highest share of transit trips (13% and 14%, respectively) compared to other areas in Arlington which have a lower proximity to the metro corridors.
- Transit trips account for only 9% of trips to Columbia Pike and 5% of trips to Other Arlington.
- Peak arrivals tend to be between the time period of 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, which coincides with the large percentage of “go-home” trips to Arlington planning areas (i.e., sleep/eat at home trips).
Arlington person trips and trip counts
- Arlington residents make an average of 3.5 trips per day.
- Adult residents (those who are above 18 years old) make more trips at 3.7 trips on average per day, compared to children (18 years old and younger) who make 2.8 trips on average per day.
- Arlington residents who are 35-to-54 years old take 4.2 trips per person, per day, the highest among the age groups.
- Senior Arlington residents age 75 or older take an average of 3.3 trips per person, per day, which is almost at par with younger residents in the age brackets of 19-to-34 (3.4 trips on average) and 55-to-74 (3.4 trips on average).
- In Arlington, “car-free households” take 3.5 trips per person per day, which is just as much as households with a car for every driver.
- “Car-lite households,” or those that have less than one vehicle available per driver, make slightly fewer trips at 3.4 trips per person per day.
- Households who have one vehicle or more available per driver make the most trips at 3.6 trips per person per day.
- Residents of Shirlington made 4.2 trips on average per person per day on their surveyed day, the highest among all Arlington residents.
- Residents of areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”) made 3.6 trips on average per person per day.
- Route 1 corridor residents make 3.5 trips on average per person per day.
- Residents of Rosslyn-Ballston corridor made 2.9 trips on average per person per day, the lowest among Arlington residents.
- When separated by mode, trips are largely accounted for by drive alone trips (1.2 trips per person), followed by drive/ride with others trips (0.9 trips per person).
- Walk trips registered the third largest share, it only accounted for 0.8 trips per person, since walk trips run the risk of being underreported compared to the drive alone and drive/ride with others trips, which are more prevalent.
- Modes of transit such as Metro trips and bus trips collectively account for 0.4 trips per person. Ridehailing accounted for 0.04 trips per person.
- In terms of walk trips, residents of Route 1 and Rosslyn-Ballston corridors have a higher average number of walk trips per person at 1.1 and 0.9, respectively.
- The average transit trips per person is 0.7 transit trips per Rosslyn-Ballston resident and 0.6 transit trips per Route 1 residents.
- Columbia Pike residents make a combined 2.3 trips on average per person for drive alone and drive/ride with others
- Residents of areas outside of the planning areas (“Other Arlington”) make a combined 2.5 trips on average per person for drive alone and drive/ride with others.
- In terms of distance, a large share of Arlington residents take short trips, with 51% of trips under two miles.
- Only 8% of trips made by Arlington residents are 10 miles or longer.
- While the average distance of trips made by Arlington residents is 8 miles, the median distance is 1.9 miles.
- Around two-thirds of one-way trips made by Arlington residents are 20 minutes or less (68%).
- 42% of all trips made by Arlington residents are short, at 10 minutes or less.
- The average travel time of trips made by Arlington residents is 21.3 minutes.
- Transit trips take the longest in terms of time, with 39% of transit trips taking more than 40 minutes.
- Majority of walk trips (70%) took 10 minutes or less.
- 67% of drive alone trips and 79% drive/ride with other trips were 20 minutes or less.
- Majority of ridehailing trips lasted between 11 to 30 minutes (68%).
- Walk trips made by Arlington residents tend to be very short in terms of distance, with 93% of walk trips at less than a mile.
- 65% of transit trips are for trips that are between 2 to 5.9 miles, the same for ridehailing trips.
- Bicycle trips tend to be either very short with 32% of bike trips being less than a mile in distance, and 42% of bike trips between 2 to 5.9 miles.
- Although 1 in 5 drive alone trips are for trips that are less than a mile, majority of drive alone trips are 1 mile to 5.9 miles (52%).
- Most of drive/ride with others trips are under 2 miles (53%).
- For trips that start or end in Arlington or are completely within Arlington, Arlington residents make 1.2 Arlington trips via drive alone per day, followed by 1.0 trips by drive/ride with others.
- Non-SOV modes account for lower numbers, such as 0.7 walk trips and 0.4 transit trips per person per day.
Commute assistance services offered to Arlington residents by employers
- Of employed Arlington residents who do not work from home, 79% reported at least one type of employer-offered transportation benefit.
- The two most popular transportation benefits offered by employers of Arlington residents are free parking (56%) and subsidized/pre-tax benefit for transit use (55%).
- One in three (33%) reported having a secure bicycle parking facility at work, while 6% reported their employer offering cash or incentives for walking or biking to work.
- Other transportation benefits related to driving, such as subsidized/pre-tax benefit for parking and electric vehicle charging station at work were reported by 17% and 11% (respectively) of Arlington residents who disclosed information about employer-offered transportation benefits.
- The least common employer-offered transportation benefit was for carpool and vanpool (in the form of cash or other incentives) at 4%.
- 21% of employed Arlington residents whose primary work location is outside of their home reported no transportation benefits offered by their employer.
- Subsidized/Pre-tax benefit for transit use was offered to 55% of residents whose workplace location is in Arlington, which is at a larger rate than those whose workplace is in Alexandria, VA (48%), Maryland (42%), and Fairfax, VA (28%), but lower than the rate for those whose workplace is in Washington, DC (79%).
Interested in learning more? Download the 2021 Arlington Resident Travel Survey and Special Analysis report here: Household Travel Survey 2021