Hawaii’s 18% carpooling
rate is best in nation

The Census Bureau also rates
the state seventh for workers'
use of public transit

Hawaii leads the nation in carpooling -- with 18 percent of the islands' workers sharing a ride to work, according to a Census Bureau analysis of commuter habits.


The national average for carpooling is 10 percent of workers 16 and older, according to the Census survey released yesterday.

Hawaii also ranked seventh among all states and the District of Columbia for workers using public transportation, the Census report said. Six percent of Hawaii workers use public transportation, compared with the national average of 5 percent.

The District of Columbia workers ranked first for use of public transportation, at 37 percent. New York state was second, with 27 percent, driven by the high proportion of New York City workers that use public transportation.

The Census Bureau also reported that, based on monthly samples taken in 2002, Hawaii ranked 49th among states for workers driving to work alone. That's 66 percent of Hawaii workers going solo, compared to the national average of 77 percent.

The state with the highest number of solo commuters is Michigan, where 85 percent drive alone.

"I'm very happy. That is an encouraging sign," said Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. "We'd like to encourage more people to carpool or vanpool, particularly since more people are moving to the west side of the island and driving into town."

To that end, the state uses federal transportation funds to subsidize its Van Pool program, Ishikawa said.

And the state plans to improve conditions for carpooling town-bound commuters, Ishikawa said, by connecting the zipper lane (from Waikele to the airport viaduct) with the Nimitz contraflow lane.

Currently there is a 2.7-mile gap between the end of the zipper lane and the beginning of the Nimitz contraflow lane, Ishikawa said. Linking the two with a designated lane should increase the efficiency of getting to town for people with multiple-passenger vehicles, Ishikawa said.

Work to install concrete barriers and restripe the lanes, at a cost of about $9 million, should begin by the end of the year, Ishikawa said.

Panos Prevedouros, a University of Hawaii associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, said Hawaii's high ranking for public transportation use doesn't surprise him.

"Compared to the national average, that looks like a very believable number," Prevedouros said yesterday.

"There are a number of states that are agricultural in nature, like Idaho or South Dakota," that don't have urban areas with enough density to even have public transportation, he said.

Use of public transportation on Oahu is around 10 percent, Prevedouros said.

Last week the Census Bureau released a survey that ranked Hawaii 11th among states for an average one-way commuting time of 25.4 minutes, or about a minute over the U.S. average of 24.3 minutes.

For more information about state van pools, call 596-VANS.


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