Which Commuters of the Largest U.S. Cities Use the Greenest Mode of Transportation to Work?

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, New York City (population 8.2 million), with one of the best subway systems in the world, ranked greenest mode of work transportation among the four biggest cities in the U.S mainly for its extensive subway system. Almost three-quarters of NYC’s commuters (72.7%) took public transportation, biked or walked to work, or worked from home. Less than one-quarter (22.4%) drove alone to work.

Only one-third of the commuters in third-biggest Chicago (2.7 million) chose public transportation to get to work. A half drove alone, mainly due to lack of or inconvenient mass transit in the outlying areas of the city.

With its underdeveloped and inadequate mass transit system, roughly 77% of Los Angeles commuters either drove alone or carpooled to work, while only 20% used public transportation.

Houston, the country’s forth largest city (2.1 million), was the flipside of NYC and ranked lowest of the four in green-friendly mode of transportation to work. Three-fourths of Houston’s commuters drove alone, and less than one-tenth (9.7%) used public transportation, biked, walked, or worked from home. Historically, Houston residents and elected officials have opposed the development of a mass transit system. It was the last major city to finally implement a 7.5-mile, 16-station light rail system, in 2004 that served only the densest areas.

Click through to see the enlarged image.


Implementing visualization techniques in faculty research
The image above shows different visualization techniques that might be used to effectively convey data or research conclusions to different types of audiences in various disciplines or industries. Some visualizations can help identify existing or emerging trends, spot irregularities or obscure patterns, and even address or solve issues.

A good example of one such implementation is Sociology Asst. Prof. Fernando DeMaio’s Center for Community Health Equity (CCHE) project. This research project used a multi-pronged approach in which maps were first created by SSRC to spatially visualize the areas served by hospitals in Chicago by various sub-geographies. Later, the SSRC trained Fernando’s research assistants how to clean and convert health, demographic and socio-economic data into mappable formats. They were also trained to create maps comparing health and demographic disparities in Chicago and Toronto, similar to the four-city transportation visualization depicted here.

Ask us how to visualize your research
If you want help with visualizing your own research findings or wonder if your research lends itself to similar techniques, including data acquisition and preprocessing of both quantitative and qualitative data, contact Nandhini Gulasingam at mgulasin@depaul.edu.



Author: Nandhini Gulasingam

Nandhini Gulasingam is a Senior Analyst for IT Solutions at the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) where she manages GIS, database, web development projects for the SSRC and is developing data visualization techniques for use in the social and behavioral sciences. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Geography where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

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