The combination ofthe Great Recession, rising gas prices, and growing environmental concerns are causing may people to rethink how they commute. After housing, transportation is the biggest item American families spend money on, accounting for an average of 20 percent of a typical family’s budget. The sheer fact of car ownership can make the difference between who spends and who saves, and even which homes go into foreclosure, as I noted here. Not to mention that being stuck in traffic ranks high on almost every list of the things that make us the most unhappy.
And yet for all that, America remains overwhelmingly a nation of drivers. Across the board, nearly nine in 10 (86 percent) of Americans commute to work by car and more than three-quarters (76.1 percent) drive to work alone, according to the most recent estimates from the American Community Survey. Only five percent use public transit to get to work.