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By News Release @ 2:26 PM :: 4324 Views :: Hawaii Statistics, Rail

Commuting Patterns in Hawaii

From DBEDT, April, 2015

How do working residents in Hawaii commute to work? Have the commuting patterns changed over time? Do the commuting patterns vary by social and demographic characteristics? Who uses public transportation to commute to work? These are some of the main questions to be answered for effective and successful transportation policy making and planning.

Questions on commuting patterns were asked in the long form survey of decennial census until 2000 and in the annual American Community Survey since 2005. This statistics brief explores commuting patterns of working residents in Hawaii in recent years and its changes over time using data from 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial census for historical trend and American Community Survey 5 year estimates for the period of 2009-2013 to capture the most recent information on commuting patterns. 

According to the 2009- 2013 American Community Survey data, the vast majority of workers in Hawaii (80.9%) used cars to get to work during the period. 66.6 percent drove alone and 14.4 percent carpooled, mostly 2-person.

Although its share was much smaller, the next popular mode of commuting in Hawaii was using public transportation. 6.4 percent of total workers in Hawaii were estimated to use public transportation, mainly buses, during the 2009-2013 period. 4.7 percent of total workers walked to work while 1.1 percent commuted by bicycle.

As one of the most urbanized and populous states in the nation, the percentage of workers using cars to commute was lower than the U.S. average (86.1%). Instead, percentages of workers using public transportation, riding bicycle, or walking were all higher than the U.S. averages for the same period.

Commuting patterns change with economic growth, demographic and cultural change incurred over time. The most prominent change occurred in the past decades in commuting mode was the increasing popularity of driving alone. The number of commuters driving alone increased 74.2 percent from 253,680 in 1980 to 441,988 in the 2009-2013 period, increasing its share of total commuters from 55.3 percent to 66.6 percent during the period. As related statistics, the number of registered passenger vehicles in Hawaii increased 74.6 percent from 514,669 in 1980 to 898,452 in 2010.

This is a remarkable increase compared to the 41.0 percent increase in total Hawaii population and 51.0 percent increase in population aged 16 and over during the 30 year period.

Conversely, the share of carpool commuters has been decreasing since 1980. In fact, not only the share of total commuters but also the absolute number of carpool commuters has been decreasing since 1990. Commuters who carpooled to work decreased by 18.2 percent from 116,496 in 1990 to 95,287 in the 2009-2013 period.

The share of workers who commute using public transportation, bicycle, and walk also decreased during the past three decades. However, the decreasing trends appeared to have stabilized since 2000. Commuters using public transportation accounted for 6.4 percent of total workers in 2009-2013, 1.8 percentage point lower than its share in 1980, but about the same level as in 2000.

Other than driving alone, working at home was the only mode that has increased its share over time. Working at home was not an easy-to-find work option in the past. Only about 8,500 people worked at home in 1980, 1.8 percent of total workers. This number more than tripled in the past three decades, accounting for 4.5 percent of total workers in the 2009-2013 period.

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