In some parts of the U.S.--like New York City--public transportation can serve your every need. That's not true is many other areas, where a car is necessary to get around efficiently. But while the majority of Americans have access either to a vehicle or to public transit, there are plenty of people who have neither. If public transit is going to work as a viable alternative to cars, it needs to better serve these people.
A new Brookings Institute report that looks at transit access and zero-vehicle households comes up with some surprising findings: 700,000 zero-vehicle households in the 100 biggest metro areas in the U.S. lack any access to public transportation, and 7.5 million households in those metro areas don't have access to a private vehicle (though they can reach public transit options).
"Seven hundred thousand households is larger than the population of Columbus, Ohio or San Antonio, Texas," said Adlie Tomer, the author of the report, in a statement. "These people are terribly constrained in earning a living, getting to the store, or taking their kids to daycare. If this many people were facing a public health scare, this country would be in crisis mode. We need to approach this problem with similar urgency."
Some regions are worse than others. In the Atlanta area, for example, there are 37,634 people without access to a car or nearby public transportation, and only 68.5% of the population is covered by public transportation services. But in the Los Angeles area, 99.1% of residents have access to public transportation (though judging by the city's clogged highways, it seems that not enough people take advantage of it).
Curious about your city? Brookings has two handy maps--one that looks at zero-vehicle households in the U.S., and another that examines zero-vehicle households without transit coverage. Hint: The metro areas with the best public transportation for car-less households are generally on the East and West coasts.
[Images: Flickr user pamhule, Brookings Institute]