Philadelphia Commuters Are Slowly, Slowly Giving Up Their Cars

How Philly commutes compare to those in 15 other urban areas.

Screenshot of a new commuting map from

Screenshot of a new commuting map from

Americans love their cars. We all know that. About 86 percent of U.S. residents commute to work by car or truck, and most of them are driving alone. A new visualization at the always-interesting really drives that home. There’s hardly a corner of the country where other commute modes–transit, walking, biking–beat out driving, by oneself, in a car.

By and large that’s true even in big cities, including, yes, Philadelphia. More than half of Philadelphians, 51 percent, commute to work in their own cars, compared to just 26 percent who take public transit and the combined 11 percent who walk or bike to work.

Those totals are actually pretty strong compared to most other big cities in the nation, but they’re hardly spectacular. Philadelphia still badly trails New York (as you’d expect) but also Boston, Washington D.C. and  San Francisco in non-car commuting.

Philly is growing less reliant on car commuting, however. The city estimates that total vehicle miles traveled in Philadelphia declined 8.6 percent between 2005 and 2014. SEPTA ridership dipped slightly last year, but it’s still at strong levels compared to the past. And the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia estimates that bicycling grew 260 percent between 2005 and 2013 (though it might be more accurate to say bike traffic on the Schuylkill River bridges grew 260 percent).

Check out how Philly stacks up to other big cities in our chart below.