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Friday, May 30, 2014

Texas sprawl



I still get various requests from journal editors to referee papers on "sprawl." Readers of this blog know that I am not fond of the term "urban sprawl".  It is vague and pejorative. Nevertheless writing (and fretting) over sprawl is a cottage industry. Google Scholar brings up almost 60,000 references. 

Cities are too important and too complex to reduce to any single index. Worse, the "costs of sprawl" literature (2,260 Google Scholar hits) evokes cost minimization as a worthy target.  Cost minimization does not describe how we go about our lives. Shopping (and much else) would be too simple.

Trouble is that costs, especially travel costs, are widely measured and reported. Additional trouble comes from the fact that travel costs are something that planners and public officials think they can (and should) do something about. Politicians get to spread large amounts of taxpayer moneys around.

But let's play the travel cost game for a moment. Large metropolitan areas should not be described by just one statistic (average commute time, for example). Our daily travel includes many other purposes.  I keep going to the NHTS source because we can get more than one trip type and more than mean trip times. Nor should very large metropolitan areas be discussed via just one or two measures. 

In the tables below, three generic sub-metropolitan areas are shown ("urban", "suburban" and "second city); means and variances for travel times in each are shown for three major trip types.  Data and sample size permitting, we can look at each metro area nine ways.  How does Texas (Houston and Dallas) compare to NYC?  The two Texas metros are on everyone's list of worst sprawl, but they outperform NYC nicely in solid majorities of the nine measures. So let's not play the costs of sprawl game. But if we must, let's give be sure to Dallas and Houston their due credit.

Travel times, New York and the U.S.
Means and variances, commuting times (minutes, solo auto drivers, one-way)

                Averages
                 Variances
Area
U.S.
New York
U.S.
New York
Metro
25.2
27.9
338.7
486.1
Urban
22.8
26.6
214.7
403.8
Suburban
24.5
25.4
292.4
376.7
Second City
23.6
25.2
308.5
435.4
Town and Country
28.4
30.8
457.0
593.6

Means and variances, home-based shopping trips (minutes, solo auto drivers, one-way)

                Averages
                 Variances
Area
U.S.
New York
U.S.
New York
Metro
12.5
12.6
95.4
110.1
Urban
12.1
13.5
93.3
143.3
Suburban
11.9
11.0
80.9
87.0
Second City
11.3
11.6
78.4
101.3
Town and Country
17.6
17.9
221.4
237.8

Means and variances, home-based social/recreational (minutes, solo auto drivers, one-way)

                Averages
                 Variances
Area
U.S.
New York
U.S.
New York
Metro
16.9
17.4
188.6
228.6
Urban
17.3
--
177.7
--
Suburban
16.4
16.2
173.7
200.6
Second City
16.3
17.4
189.9
241.8
Town and Country
17.2
17.9
208.2
237.8

Source: 2009 NHTS (only entries with n>100 shown)


 Travel times, Dallas and the U.S.
Means and variances, commuting times (minutes, solo auto drivers, one-way)

                Averages
                 Variances
Area
U.S.
Dallas
U.S.
Dallas
Metro
25.2
26.4
338.7
369.4
Urban
22.8
23.2
214.7
178.4
Suburban
24.5
26.2
292.4
296.5
Second City
23.6
24.6
308.5
331.8
Town and Country
28.4
30.1
457.0
573.4

Means and variances, home-based shopping trips (minutes, solo auto drivers, one-way)

                Averages
                 Variances
Area
U.S.
Dallas
U.S.
Dallas
Metro
12.5
12.3
95.4
96.7
Urban
12.1
10.9
93.3
87.1
Suburban
11.9
12.0
80.9
97.4
Second City
11.3
11.3
78.4
75.9
Town and Country
17.6
18.3
221.4
198.5

Means and variances, home-based social/recreational (minutes, solo auto drivers, one-way)

                Averages
                 Variances
Area
U.S.
Dallas
U.S.
Dallas
Metro
16.9
16.9
188.6
173.2
Urban
17.3
15.2
177.7
133.1
Suburban
16.4
16.3
173.7
145.5
Second City
16.3
17.0
183.9
205.5
Town and Country
17.2
18.3
208.2
198.5

Source: 2009 NHTS (only entries with n>100 shown)


Travel times, Houston and the U.S.
Means and variances, commuting times (minutes, solo auto drivers, one-way)

                Averages
                 Variances
Area
U.S.
Houston
U.S.
Houston
Metro
25.2
27.5
338.7
324.1
Urban
22.8
20.1
214.7
111.6
Suburban
24.5
26.4
292.4
295.5
Second City
23.6
27.5
308.5
291.8
Town and Country
28.4
32.8
457.0
445.2

Means and variances, home-based shopping trips (minutes, solo auto drivers, one-way)

                Averages
                 Variances
Area
U.S.
Houston
U.S.
Houston
Metro
12.5
12.8
95.4
114.1
Urban
12.1
12.2
93.3
103.1
Suburban
11.9
12.0
80.9
79.9
Second City
12.3
11.3
78.4
99.3
Town and Country
17.6
17.6
221.4
203.3

Means and variances, home-based social/recreational (minutes, solo auto drivers, one-way)

                Averages
                 Variances
Area
U.S.
Houston
U.S.
Houston
Metro
16.9
18.3
188.6
227.1
Urban
17.3
17.3
177.7
144.4
Suburban
16.4
18.1
173.7
216.0
Second City
16.3
19.7
183.9
320.7
Town and Country
17.2
17.6
208.2
203.3

Source: 2009 NHTS (only entries with n>100 shown)
 

 

 
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