The Cities Where No One Wants to Drive

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10. San Francisco, Calif.
> Pct. of households without a vehicle: 29.3%
> Pct. commuting to work via public transportation: 32.7% (6th highest)
> Metropolitan area: San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
> Population: 837,442

More than 29% of San Francisco households did not have a car in 2013, the 10th highest proportion among U.S. cities reviewed. Nationwide, just 9.1% of households did not have a car. Like nearly all cities where a relatively large share of residents choose not to own a vehicle, San Francisco is among the nation’s most densely populated. The surrounding metropolitan area was home to 1,754.8 people per square mile on average in 2010 — the third most densely populated metro area in the country. San Francisco also has among the most used public transportation systems, which likely makes living without a vehicle far more convenient than in many other cities. Nearly one third of city residents used public transit in 2013, the sixth-highest usage rate nationwide. The affordability of public transit compared to owning a car may be especially important to San Francisco residents. The metro area had one of the higher costs of living in the country — 21.3% more than the average cost of living across the nation.

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9. Baltimore, Md.
> Pct. of households without a vehicle: 29.8%
> Pct. commuting to work via public transportation: 18.8% (25th highest)
> Metropolitan area: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
> Population: 622,104

As in most cities where a relatively large share of households do not own a vehicle, Baltimore residents were far more likely than most Americans to use public transportation. Nearly 19% of commuters in the city used public transit, excluding taxis, versus the national proportion of 5.2%. While public transportation is used frequently in Baltimore, this does not mean it is an efficient system. Most large cities had longer than average commute times, and Baltimore was no exception. City residents spent more than 30 minutes on average commuting to work, versus a national average of 25.8 minutes. Public transit usage is cheaper than owning a car. This likely played a bigger role in Baltimore residents’ decision whether or not to own a car as a typical family earned $42,266 in 2013, one of the lower median household incomes among large U.S. cities. The Baltimore metropolitan area is also more expensive than the nation as a whole.

8. Trenton, N.J.
> Pct. of households without a vehicle: 30.0%
> Pct. commuting to work via public transportation: 13.3% (12th lowest)
> Metropolitan area: Trenton, NJ
> Population: 84,344

Finances may be a relatively large consideration for Trenton residents deciding whether to purchase a vehicle. The cost of living was relatively high in Trenton, and the household median income was less than $37,000 in 2013, one of the lowest nationwide. The city also had relatively high unemployment and poverty rates, at 10.9% and 22.9%, respectively. Perhaps to help cut costs, Trenton residents were far more likely than other Americans to either carpool or take public transportation. Nearly 24% of Trenton commuters carpooled in 2013, the third highest rate nationwide. Also, 13.3% of commuters used public transit, one of the higher proportions, and considerably higher than the national percentage of 5.2%.