The Bureau of Transportation Statistics - the federal statistical agency for the Department of Transportation charged with improving the knowledge base for public decision making - is coordinating the Omnibus Survey program. The survey is a ONEDOT effort to collect information about the transportation system, how it is used, and how it is viewed by the users.
BTS is gathering data each month on a random basis from 1,000 households to determine the general public's satisfaction with the nation's transportation system and to prioritize improvements to the transportation system. Each month the survey contains a set of core questions about transportation system use, as well as questions posed by the various operating administrations within the Department. Finally, each month the survey asks questions relating to one of the following DOT strategic goals: safety, mobility, human and natural environment, or national security.
These monthly surveys are designed to measure Americans' satisfaction with the transportation system and the Department of Transportation. They are not intended nor designed to measure characteristics of the transportation system. The data concerning characteristics of transportation are collected to enhance understanding of the customer satisfaction measures and the concerns respondents express regarding the transportation system.
Estimates such as the number of Americans traveling by air, the availability of public transportation, use of car pools, and the like may not match data from other sources because of sampling variability and methodological limitations of the survey. For example, the survey covers only people in households with a telephone. Characteristics related to the lack of a telephone will be estimated with imperfect accuracy. For example, estimates of households having no licensed motor vehicles are likely understated because the sample does not include households without telephones.
Another source of possible disagreement with other estimates occurs because the Omnibus survey does not use official definitions of transportation concepts in the interview. Due to time constraints, the survey often provides no definitions, but allows the respondent to interpret terminology in the question. Estimates based on respondent reports from the Omnibus Survey could differ from estimates obtained through different methods. For example, when the Omnibus asks respondents about the availability of public transportation, it does not specify, "within a quarter mile." Nor does it define "public transportation." Without precise definitions, respondents may consider charter buses, for example, to be "public transportation."
The findings provided by the Omnibus Survey program will provide a valuable framework for the Secretary and senior officials in DOT operating administrations to make measurable improvements in our transportation system, the security of our nation, and the quality of American life.
Omnibus Survey Program
Office of Statistical Programs
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
US Department of Transportation
The strategic goals focused on in the September survey were mobility and economic growth, while the mode-specific questions concern rail grade crossings, travel by persons with disabilities, tire pressure, terrorism threats, airplane luggage restrictions, and truck safety. This report summarizes the major findings of the survey. More detailed results and the data are available on the BTS Omnibus website at www.bts.gov/omnibus.
More than 98 percent of the September survey respondents have used the transportation system in the past 30 days. The most common mode of transportation was a private vehicle which was used by more than 96 percent of the respondents. Almost 90 percent of the respondents had driven alone in the past 30 days while more than half had driven or ridden with someone else.
The proportion of respondents who have used each of the modes of transportation has remained relatively constant since the August Household Survey. Airplane usage and taxi, limo, and shuttle usage have both declined, while recreational boat usage has increased.
Approximately 207 million Americans drove or rode in a private vehicle in the past thirty days. One hundred and eighty-five million Americans drove alone in a private vehicle at least once, while the vast majority, 83.5 percent, did so more than 10 times. One hundred and seven million Americans drove or rode with others at least once. Commercial boats, intercity buses, intercity trains, and private or charter airplanes were the modes of transportation used least.
|Mode of transportation||Total number (millions)||Percent who used mode in last 30 days by number of times used|
|1 or 2 times||3 to 5 times||6 to 10 times||More than 10 times|
|Drive alone in private vehicle||185.0||2.6||5.3||8.6||83.5|
|Drive or ride with others||106.8||14.6||19.6||15.5||50.3|
|Local bus, subway rail||30.6||32.3||23.7||8.5||35.5|
|Taxi, limo or shuttle||25.5||64.1||22.0||7.4||6.6|
|Private or charter airplane||3.0||79.8||7.7||12.5|
The bicycle was also a popular mode of transportation; approximately 42 million American adults, 1 out of every 5, has ridden a bike in the past 30 days. Most adults used their bicycles for recreation or exercise. Only 7 percent report using their bicycles to commute to work.
Internet and phone purchases that require delivery to homes have a major impact on transportation system use. Monitoring the flow of traffic on neighborhood streets and roads as a result of package delivery is important for DOT in order to assess the effects of congestion, delay, road conditions, and the like.
The number of adults who made purchases over the phone or Internet in the past 30 days that required delivery of a package declined from August to September. In the 30 days prior to the August Household survey, approximately 68.9 million Americans made at least one such purchase. In the 30 days prior to the September Household Survey, only 59.7 million Americans made at least one such purchase. In addition, the number of individuals making multiple purchases requiring package delivery declined.
The observed decline in purchases over the phone or Internet requiring package delivery may be a function of late summer vacation schedules. The Omnibus Survey program will continue to monitor trends in phone and Internet purchases among Americans.
The September survey found that about one in ten (20 million) American adults have some kind of disability or health problem that makes it difficult for them to travel outside their homes. This number is the same as reported in the August Household Survey Report but lower then the number reported from the 1995 National Health Interview Survey (17 percent).
The September survey found that one in four of those with a disability or health problem which made it difficult to travel outside the home were age 65 or older. An additional 24 percent were in the 45 to 54 year age group. Despite the high proportion of respondents with disabilities or health problems in the latter age group, health problems increase with age. The growth in the number of people with disabilities can be expected to accelerate in the coming decades-resulting in larger and larger numbers of people who have difficulty traveling outside their homes.
Transportation service barriers impede the full social and labor-force participation of people with disabilities or health problems. Access to public buildings, including bus and transit stations and airports, may be a problem for them. Some modes of transportation, such as intercity buses and some subway systems, remain almost totally inaccessible to those with limited mobility. Air travel can be partially accessible or completely inaccessible, depending on the type of plane and the presence or absence of a jet way. Among the difficulties using public transportation cited by disabled persons, over 50 percent said they experienced problems with transportation as a driver of a private vehicle. Forty-six percent indicated they had difficulties traveling by bicycle, and 41 percent indicated they had difficulties traveling on public transportation.
In the September Household Survey, respondents were asked again to rate their level of concern about eleven specific transportation issues. As in August, the September Household Survey shows that accidents evoke the greatest concern; an identical proportion of survey respondents, 59 percent, indicated they had "great concern" about accidents in August and September.
As found in August, the cost of transportation, the accessibility of transportation services for people with disabilities, and air pollution are the other areas of greatest concern to the American public. Interestingly, concern about crime while traveling has declined since August. In the August Household Survey, 40 percent of respondents expressed "great concern" about how safe they feel from crime while traveling. In September, that proportion dropped to 34 percent.
A new item in the September Household Survey, about which respondents were asked to rate their level of concern, was the availability of public transportation such as transit buses and trains in their area. More than one in four respondents, 27 percent, expressed "great concern" about this issue.
Respondents were also asked to rate their level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the same eleven specific transportation issues again. The proportions of respondents who said they were "very satisfied" or "very dissatisfied" with each issue are presented below.
Although the largest proportion of respondents expressed "great concern" about accidents, only a small proportion, 14 percent, were very dissatisfied about accident safety. In fact, for three of the five areas of greatest concern, accident safety, access for the disabled, and security from acts of terrorism, the proportion of respondents who were very satisfied was greater than the proportion of respondents who were very dissatisfied.
Respondents expressed the greatest dissatisfaction with transportation costs. Fifty percent, were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with how much they spend on transportation. The other area of greatest dissatisfaction was travel delays. Thirty-nine percent of the respondents were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with delays when they travel. An almost equal proportion of respondents, 38 percent, were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the availability of public transportation in their area.
|Delays and Congestion
This month Omnibus Survey focused on DOTs mobility strategic goals. Specifically, the September Household Survey sought to measure the impact of delays and congestion on the everyday lives of Americans.
Americans are bothered by traffic delays and congestion. For every two Americans who are not at all bothered, there are three Americans who are bothered a lot. Almost 50 percent are bothered a little bit.
One hundred and thirty-five million Americans commute to work or school on a regular basis. To assess the impact of congestion on their time, respondents were asked how long their commute between home and work or school was on average and how long it would be if there were no congestion.
Approximately 60 percent of Americans have commutes of 20 minutes or less. If there were no congestion, this proportion would rise to 75 percent. Without congestion, the proportion of Americans who commute for 30 minutes or more would decline from approximately 20 percent to only 10 percent.
An additional 65 million Americans travel from home to various places throughout the day. To assess the impact of congestion on their time, these respondents were asked how long it took them to get from home to their first stop on the most recent day on which they traveled and how long it would have taken had there been no delays or congestion.
On any given day, only 40 percent of Americans who make trips during the day can arrive at their first stop in 10 minutes or less. If there were no congestion, that proportion could increase by 25 percent.
The September Household Survey sought to assess the impact of congestion not only on people's time but also on their lives. To do this, respondents were asked how often delays and congestion had affected various aspects of their lives in the past week.
Delays and congestion affected the time of day traveled and the route taken frequently or occasionally for more than half the respondents. They seem to have had far less impact, however, on either the method of transportation used or attendance at meetings or appointments. Decisions about the method of transportation were never affected by delays or congestion for more than 75 percent of the respondents, and fully 85 percent of the respondents did not miss a meeting or appointment because of delays or congestion.
The recall of the Firestone tires on Ford Explorers has focused a lot of attention on the importance of tire pressure for vehicle safety. The September survey asked the American public about the number of licensed vehicles they own and how and when they check the air pressure in the tires of those vehicles.
There are approximately 193 million licensed vehicles in the U.S. More than half the households have two or three vehicles. Almost one in three has only one vehicle, while one in ten has four or more.
Almost half of all the survey respondents checked the air pressure in their tires themselves. Men, however, were almost three times as likely to check the air pressure in their tires themselves than were women. Seventy-two percent of the male respondents said they did it themselves compared with only 27 percent of the female respondents. Thirty-four percent of the female respondents said their spouse checked the air pressure in their tires.
Women were also twice as likely not to know who checked their tire air pressure or not to check it at all. The proportion of respondents who said "no one" or "don't know" was less than 2 percent.
Respondents were asked how often they checked or had someone else check the air pressure in their tires. An equal proportion, 29 percent, checked their tires either monthly or when they seemed low. Approximately five percent of the respondents reported that they checked their tires weekly.
Respondents who checked the air pressure in their own tires were asked what methods they used to determine the proper air pressure for their tires. The method cited by 45 percent of the respondents was relying on the information printed on the side of their tires. More than one in four, however, used their vehicle's owner's manual to determine the proper air pressure. Other methods respondents reported using include using air pressure or tire gauges or relying on others such as a relative, friend of mechanic.
Respondents who checked the air pressure in their own tires were also asked what methods they used to determine when the desired air pressure had been reached. Sixty-eight percent reported that they used a hand-held tire gauge. Another 27 percent relied upon the tire pump gauge or bell. Other methods mentioned for determining whether the desired air pressure had been reached were based on the vehicle's performance and the response of the tire after being pushed.
Just under half of all Americans agree with the statement that most truck drivers drive safely, a decline from the findings in August. Although a large number of Americans agree most truck drivers drive safely, an even greater proportion (57 percent) feel very concerned about their own safety when traveling near large trucks. Over half of all drivers make a special effort to avoid driving near large trucks.
Every day, people attempt to beat a train to the railroad crossing, endangering their lives as well as those of the train crew and passengers. Although over 65 percent of the survey respondents, almost two out of every three, knew a motorist should "Stop, Look, and Listen" before proceeding across a railroad crossing, this proportion has declined from 69 percent in the August survey. The Household survey will continue to track this measure to provide a basis for DOT decision makers to assess the effectiveness of its public safety campaigns.
To assess America's understanding of commercial air regulations, respondents were asked whether ten items or groups of items were never allowed on commercial airline, allowed on commercial airlines with some restrictions, or always allowed on commercial airlines. The results from the September Household Survey are very similar to those from the August survey.
The proportion of Americans who agree that the U.S. is vulnerable to terrorism that threatens the safety of its transportation system declined slightly from 65 percent in August to 62 percent in September. Similarly, the proportion of Americans who agree that they are not concerned about terrorist acts threatening their own personal safety while traveling rose from 57 percent in August to 60 percent in September. Support for airport-type security measures at bus and rail stations to address the threat of terrorist acts remained virtually unchanged.