Previous research has shown that public transit use may be associated with active transportation. Access to a car may influence active transportation of transit riders.
Using the 2009 United States National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), transit users ≥ 16 years old (n = 25,550) were categorized according to driver status and number of cars and drivers in the household. This typology ranged from choice transit riders (ie, “fully motorized drivers”) to transit-dependent riders (ie, “unmotorized nondriver”). Transit trips, walking trips, and bicycling trips of transit users are estimated in negative binomial models against the car availability typology.
Sixteen percent of participants took transit in the past month; most (86%) lived in car-owning households. As income increased, car availability also increased. Transit user groups with lower car availability were generally more likely than fully motorized drivers to take more public transit, walking, and bicycle trips. Transit riders have varying levels of vehicle access; their use of combinations of alternative modes of transportation fluctuates accordingly. Transit-dependent individuals without cars or sharing cars used active transportation more frequently than car owners.
Policies to reduce vehicle ownership in households may enable increases in the use of alternative modes of transportation for transit users, even when cars are still owned.
Ugo Lachapelle, Larry Frank, Brian E. Saelens, James F. Sallis and Terry L. Conway
Most public transit users walk to and from transit. We analyzed the relationship between transit commuting and objectively measured physical activity.
Adults aged 20 to 65 working outside the home (n = 1237) were randomly selected from neighborhoods in Seattle and Baltimore regions. Neighborhoods had high or low median income and high or low mean walkability. Mean daily minutes of accelerometer-measured moderate-intensity physical activity (MPA) were regressed on frequency of commuting by transit and neighborhood walkability, adjusting for demographic factors and enjoyment of physical activity. Interaction terms and stratification were used to assess moderating effect of walkability on the relation between transit commuting and MPA. Associations between transit commuting and self-reported days walked to destinations near home and work were assessed using Chi Square tests.
Regardless of neighborhood walkability, those commuting by transit accumulated more MPA (approximately 5 to 10 minutes) and walked more to services and destinations near home and near the workplace than transit nonusers. Enjoyment of physical activity was not associated with more transit commute, nor did it confound the relationships between MPA and commuting.
Investments in infrastructure and service to promote commuting by transit could contribute to increased physical activity and improved health.