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Travel by Mode

Travel by Mode

Personal vehicles1 are the predominant means by which people travel in the United States on a daily basis. In 2001, 87 percent of person trips and 88 percent of person-miles were made in personal vehicles (figure 29 and figure 30). Walking and riding a bicycle accounted for almost 10 percent oftrips and less than 1 percent of miles. Both transit and school bus trips accounted for 2 percent each of trips and 1 percent each of miles, whereas only 0.1 percent of all daily trips but 8 percent of miles were made by air2 [1].

Within the personal vehicle category, in 2001 passenger cars were still the most widely used, accounting for 59 percent of person trips and 55 percent of person-miles. Vans and sport utility vehicles were used for 27 percent of trips and miles. Pickup trucks accounted for 15 percent of miles and 13 percent of trips. Together, other trucks, recreational vehicles, and motorcycles were used for almost 1 percent of trips and 3 percent of miles [1].

In the 2001 National Household Travel Survey, the definition of transit includes buses (but excludes charter, tour, and intercity buses, school buses, and shuttle buses), subway or elevated rail, street car and trolley car, commuter train, and waterborne passenger lines and ferries. Buses were the most widely used transit vehicle (67 percent of transit person trips and 53 percent of transit person-miles). Subway or elevated rail was the second most widely used, accounting for about one-quarter of these trips and miles. Commuter trains were used for only 6 percent of transit trips but because of the relatively long trip distances involved, accounted for 18 percent of the transit person-miles.


1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics and Federal Highway Administration, 2001 National Household Travel Survey, Preliminary Data Release Version 1 (day trip data only), available at http://nhts.ornl.gov, as of January 2003.

1 Personal vehicles include passenger cars, vans, sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, other trucks, recreational vehicles (not including boats), and motorcycles.

2 The 2001 National Household Travel Survey “travel period” data were not available when this report was prepared. Without these data, vacation trips and travel by air tend to be underrepresented.

Updated: Saturday, May 20, 2017