Study: Most Center City workers rely on public transit

Posted: September 10, 2013

About 62 percent of Center City workers who commute from the suburbs or other parts of Philadelphia rely on public transit, walking, or biking to get to their jobs, according to a new report by the Center City District.

And a survey of 5,000 people working between Girard Avenue and Tasker Street and between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers found 69.5 percent reported using public transit, while only 19.8 percent commuted by private car. Others said they walked or biked.

The findings are included in a new report, "How Philadelphia Gets to Work: Investing for Growth," being released this week by the Center City District and the Central Philadelphia Development Corp.

Broader commuting surveys of the entire city of Philadelphia have shown a greater reliance on autos: 60.5 percent drive to work in the whole city, while 27.3 percent take transit, according to the latest census data compiled by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

The Center City District survey found age and income significantly affected commuting choices.

Younger and poorer workers were less likely to drive: About 11 percent of those with incomes between $25,000 and $50,000 a year drove to work, while 28.1 percent with incomes over $200,000 commuted by car. Among workers 18 to 24 years old, only 7 percent drove to work, while about 20 percent of those between 40 and 64 drove.

The number of people taking trains, buses, subways, and trolleys into Center City on an average weekday has grown from 265,087 in 2003 to 305,238, according to the report's authors.

The report is being released as state legislators prepare to return to Harrisburg later this month to battle over state transportation funding.

"The timing was not aimed at the legislature . . . but this report is saying that transit is absolutely key to competitiveness for Philadelphia," said Paul Levy, president and chief executive of the Center City District. "This is the most sensible type of economic development investment they can make."

Levy said rising gas prices, a generational shift away from driving, and the allure of Center City to residents as well as workers have combined to boost transit, biking, and walking in Philadelphia's core.

"The live-work dynamic that has been growing for some time has gotten extremely strong," Levy said.

The report will be available at the district's website:

Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or

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