Monday - Friday
8:00am to 4:30pm
121 S. Pinckney St.,
Madison, WI 53703
Tel: (608) 266-4336
Fax: (608) 261-9967
Work Trip Commuting
The growth of major employment and commercial retail centers on the periphery of the Madison area has resulted in a more dispersed work travel pattern. While the downtown Madison/UW-Madison campus area remains by far the largest employment center, there has been very little net increase in employment in the area over the past two decades. As a result, a lower percentage of trips are destined for the central Madison area.
Growth in Dane County and City of Madison employment has outpaced the growth in the resident labor force and this trend is expected to continue. The same trend has occurred in the Cities of Middleton and Monona, though the numbers are much smaller. The labor force from surrounding counties and communities fills the gap in workers by commuting into the county and Madison area on a daily basis.
Around 40,000 workers commute into Dane County from seven adjacent counties, according to 2006-2008 American Community Survey (ACS) data. Of these, about 22,600 commuted to the City of Madison. The number of workers commuting into Dane County represented about a 33% increase compared to 2000. While the 2006-2008 and 2000 data sources aren’t directly comparable, the numbers are consistent with past trends from decennial Census data. “Reverse commuting” from Dane County to adjacent counties did not show the same increase. Around 8,400 commuted to adjacent counties, about the same as in 2000.
Around 62,600 workers commuted to the City of Madison from other Dane County communities in 2009, according to U.S. Census Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program data. This number is consistent with and somewhat higher than the 60,000 in 2000 reported from decennial Census data. The increase in commuting into Madison continues past trends. However, the rate of increase has slowed since 1990 as other communities have attracted more employment.
According to 2007-2009 ACS data, 63% of City of Madison residents and 73% of all Dane County residents drove alone to work, while a total of 33% of city residents and 23% of all county residents carpooled, took public transportation, bicycled or walked. The percentage of City of Madison workers that drove alone to work is significantly higher (71%), reflecting the high numbers of commuters from out of the city and county.
The percentage of City of Madison residents that drove alone decreased from 65% in 2000 to 63% in 2007-2009, the percentage taking public transit increased from 7.2% to 8.2%, and the percentage bicycling increased from 3.2% to 4.5%. The same trend was true for all Dane County residents with the percentage of commuters that drove alone dropping from 74.1% to 72.6% and the percentage of commuters that took public transit, carpooled, and bicycled increasing. However, only the decrease in drive alone commuting and increase in bicycling were within the margin of error. The shift is likely due in part to the increase in gasoline prices, which spiked in 2008. The number of new carpoolers enrolled in the Madison Area TPB’s Rideshare Etc. Program spiked in 2008. The continued increase in Metro Transit ridership and bicyclist traffic counts on City of Madison bike paths corroborates the relatively small but still significant shift in commuting behavior since 2000.
The average travel time to work for City of Madison and all Dane County residents was 18.6 minutes and 20.3 minutes respectively, according to 2007-2009 ACS data. Travel times for workers who drove alone were slightly shorter while average travel times for those who took public transit were substantially longer—28.1 minutes for City of Madison residents and 30.1 minutes for all Dane County residents.