You are here
Omnibus Survey Household Survey Results Summary Report February 2001
Household Survey Results
The Bureau of Transportation Statisticsthe federal statistical agency for the Department of Transportation charged with improving the knowledge base for public decision makingcoordinates the Omnibus Survey program. The survey is a DOT-wide effort to collect information about the transportation system, how it is used, and how it is viewed by the users.
BTS gathers 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 help prioritize improvements to the system. This survey is intended to measure Americans' satisfaction with the transportation system. It is not intended or 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, e.g., 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.
For More Information
Omnibus Survey Program
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
US Department of Transportation
Office of Statistical Programs
This report on the February Household Survey of the Omnibus Survey Program summarizes the major findings of the survey. Each month the survey contains a set of core questions about transportation system use and levels of satisfaction with the Department of Transportation (DOT), thus allowing for the identification of monthly trends. Each month the survey also contains questions posed by the various operating administrations within the Department. Finally, each month the survey asks questions relating to one of DOT's strategic goals. This month the Household Survey asked questions about the human and natural environment.
- Transportation use in the "past 30 days" remained unchanged, compared with the similar period reported in January, for all modes of transportation.
- An estimated 24 (±4.6) million people (12, ±2.3 percent) used public transportation (local public buses, subways, or commuter rail) at least once in the past 30 days.
- The majority (88, ±2.3 percent) of respondents did not use public transportation (local public bus, subway, or commuter rail). Out of this group, 56 (±3.9) percent said they did not use these modes of transportation because it "is more convenient to drive." Twenty-three (±3.2) percent indicated that these modes of transportation were "not readily available" in their area and 6 (±1.7) percent said either public transportation "does not go where they need to travel to" or bus stops/subway stations are "too far from where they live."
- An estimated 8.7 million (36, ±10.1 percent) of those who used public transportation used it only one or two days during the 30 days prior to the survey. Twenty-one (±7.6) percent (5.1 million) used it three to five days, and 6 (±4.2) percent (1.5 million) used it six to ten days. The remaining 37 (±10.3) percent (8.8 million) used public transportation more than 10 days over the same period.
- Over 193 (±3.1) million people traveled in private vehicles during the past 30 days. Approximately 183 (±3.8) million drove alone at least once, and 129 (±7.1) million drove or rode with others at least once.
- Over 23 (±5.0) million people participated in organized carpool or vanpool during the 30 days prior to this survey. More women than men used a car or van pool, 14 percent versus 9 percent (p<.000).
- From those who did not use organized car pools or van pools (177, ±5.0 million), 44 (±3.9) percent said that they did not use car pools or van pools because "it is not convenient." This mode was "not readily available" to 11 (±2.4) percent and was "not applicable" to another 12 (±2.5) percent of public.
- Ten (±2.0) percent of those surveyed said that they had flown on a commercial airplane during the past 30 days.
- People who live outside metropolitan areas are less likely to fly on a commercial airplane than those living within metropolitan areas. Only 3 (±1.5) percent of people living outside metropolitan areas flew on commercial airplanes during the past 30 days, while 12 (±2.8) percent of people living in metropolitan areas flew in commercial airplanes (p<.000).
- Among the survey respondents who flew during the 30 days prior to this survey, the proportion of those who were somewhat to very dissatisfied with the Department of Transportation's efforts to reduce air traffic congestion was significantly higher than the proportion of those who were very dissatisfied for the same reason and did not fly during the same period. Thirty-four (±7) percent of those who flew and 20 (±2) percent of those who did not fly during this period were somewhat to very dissatisfied with DOT's efforts to reduce air traffic congestion (p<.007).
- An estimated 4 (±2.0) million people used recreational boats in the past 30 days. The majority (75, ±20.6 percent) of these individuals used recreational boats for a total of six hours or less.
Satisfaction with Public Transportation
- In general the majority of people are satisfied with the modes of transportation they used during the 30 days prior to this survey. Eighty-eight (±7.2) percent of those who used local public buses, subways, or commuter rail said that they were satisfied with these modes of transportation. However, within this group, satisfaction was greatest among those who use it the least and those who use it the most. Ninety-eight (±3.8) percent of people who used public transportation one or two days in the past 30 days were satisfied with this type of transportation. Eighty-five (±9.3) percent of those who used it three to five days in the past 30 days were satisfied, and 84 (±9.8) percent of those who used it ten days or more were satisfied. However, only 62 (±12.6) percent of those who used public transportation six to ten days in the past 30 days expressed satisfaction with the mode. Ninety five (±5.0) percent of those who participated in organized car/van pool expressed satisfaction with car/van pooling. Eighty-eight (±5.9) percent of those who used commercial airplanes were satisfied. Almost 94 (±4.8) percent of those who used taxi, limo, or shuttle service said that they were satisfied with the type of transportation. Satisfaction rates reported for other modes were (98, ±4.8), (93, ±6.9), and (81, ±25.9) percent for users of inter-city buses, inter-city trains, and commercial boats, ships, or ferries, respectively.
Human and Natural Environment
Transportation in the Community
- Twenty-five (±3.2) percent of people in this country cite overall quality of life as the single most important consideration in choosing where to live. The second most commonly cited consideration is ease of commute to work. For over 12 (±2.3) percent of public convenience to work and easy commute were the single largest considerations in choosing where to live.
- Almost two in five people (38, ±3.5 percent) are very concerned about the effect of traffic congestion on quality of life. Over one-fifth of those surveyed (22, ±3.1 percent) are very dissatisfied with the Department of Transportation's efforts to address the issue.
- About three-fourths of the respondents (72, ±3.2 percent) consider ease of driving to work, shopping, and recreation to be a very important issue.
- Low levels of traffic congestion in their community was identified as a very important transportation issue by 54 (±3.6) percent of the public. Conveniently located walking paths and sidewalks was also considered to be very important by about half of the survey respondents.
Transportation and the Environment
- Nearly three in every ten respondents were very concerned about air pollution from transportation sources (28, ±3.4 percent), water pollution from transportation sources (28, ±3.4 percent), and the impact of transportation emissions on global weather patterns (29, ±3.4 percent). Almost one-third (33, ±4.0 percent) of the public is very or somewhat satisfied with the Department of Transportation's efforts to reduce air pollution from transportation sources. Over 31, (±2.0) percent are very or somewhat satisfied with the Department of Transportation's efforts to reduce water pollution from transportation sources, and 35 ( ±2.1) percent of the respondents are somewhat to very satisfied with the DOT's efforts to enforce vehicle emission standards.
- Over 46 (±3.6) percent of survey participants consider cars, SUVs, and pickups to be the primary sources of air pollution. Fourteen (±2.5) percent consider factories and 9 (±2.3) percent believe semis or large trucks are the primary source of air pollution.
- Two-thirds of the respondents (67, ±3.4 percent) say that noise from airplanes is noticeable in their community. Thirteen (±2.4) percent consider noise levels from airplanes to be higher today than they were a year ago. Among those who live in communities where noise from airplanes is noticeable, 19.8 million (15, ±3.2 percent) said that the current level of noise caused by airplanes flying over their communities is unacceptable.
- Three in five respondents (60, ±3.6 percent) say that noise from trains is noticeable in their community. Six (±1.8) percent consider noise levels from trains to be higher today than they were a year ago. Among those who live in communities where noise from trains is noticeable, 18.3 million (15, ±3.6 percent) find the noise levels unacceptable.
- About three-fourths of survey respondents (76, ±2.5 percent) strongly or somewhat agree that utility pipelines in their community serve a needed purpose. Over half of all respondents (58, ±2.5 percent) either strongly or somewhat agree that pipelines in their communities are safe.
Child Booster Seats
- Fifty-five (±4.4) percent of all respondents agree that regular car seat belts are not as effective as a booster seats to protect children riding in a car. Four out of every five (79, ±4.6 percent) of the individuals who responded to the survey either strongly or somewhat agree that the purpose of a booster seat is to position a child properly to fit the car seat belt. Over 64 (±3.6) percent strongly agree there should be mandatory requirements to use booster seats for children who outgrow infant car seats.
February Transportation User Trends
Frequency of Transportation Use in Last 30 Days - February
|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||182.7||1.8%||4.8%||7.4%||86.0%|
|Drive or ride with others||128.8||13.8%||20.0%||17.8%||48.5%|
|Local bus, subway, rail||24.1||36.1%||21.1%||6.1%||36.8%|
|Car pool or van pool||23.3||16.8%||29.0%||18.3%||35.8%|
|Taxi, limo or shuttle||20.5||66.2%||25.8%||2.4%||5.6%|
|Private or charter airplane||2.9||56.1%||29.8%||11.8%||2.3%|