How Many Counties in the US have Minimal Use of Public Transit?



Last year, I made a few visualizations showing how people get to work in the U.S. I was very surprised at how few people use public transportation to commute, given how popular it is in certain metro areas. For example, in New York City, close to 60% of commuters use public transit to get to work. New York City is definitely the extreme though since only about 5% of commuters use public transit to get to work according to the U.S. Census Bureau. I decided I would take a closer look at some of the county level data for the U.S. to see how transit use differed throughout the U.S.

When I started to look at some of the county level data, I found that there are some counties in that no one reports using public transit to get to work. There are even more where less than 1% of the population uses public transit. When I use 1% as the threshold for “Minimal Access to Public Transit”, I found that 2,515 counties or 80% counties fall into this category. When you look at it from a population perspective though the results are a little less troubling. Only 35% of the nations 143 million workers live in these counties. While the visualization below helps to show some of the divide between rural and urban populations and there use of public transit, advocates of public transit are most likely still best off targeting larger cities and counties since most workers live in these counties and most still have relativity low public transit use.


Mobile Users: If you are having issues using the interactive version of this visualization, you can find a static version here.

Data Notes

This visualization uses the 2011-2015 5 year estimates from the American Community Survey. The data is compiled by the Census Bureau and is published on I used Table B08101 for this graphic. Once I complied the data I created the visualization using Tableau.

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