Trends and Patterns in Transportation in Atlanta


Transportation trends in Atlanta MSA is analyzed in this report. Since Atlanta is one of the biggest sprawling metro in the USA and has one of the worst traffic among other metropolitan cities in the USA, it would be interesting to observe the travel pattern of Atlanta. Factors analyzed understand the travelling trends in Atlanta include Average Vehicle Trip by Purpose, Number of Drivers by Age and Sex, VMT by sex, Number of Driver by Household and Number of Person Trips by Mode. The report begins by assessing the national trends and then segues into focusing on Atlanta, then comparing it with the national level trends and finally predicting future patterns and suggesting policy changes.

National Level Trends

The number of trips made for work has decreased since 2001 in 2009. It is seen that trips for other reasons has the largest growth since 2001. Since the growth of Information technology, the working methodology has changed. A lot of people do not go to an office to work, rather work from home, set up an office at home, establish a start-up company at home, or work at a coffee shop. Several co-op avenues have been created which allows people from different companies to work in one space. It seems this data does not account for such spaces. People over the years are trying to make strong family bonds compared to the previous generations hence it may be that the baby boomers in order to give more attention to their children are making more social and familial trips compared to work trips. Hence, we also see that there is a decline in VMT from 2001 to 2009. (NHTS, 2009)

Number of vehicle miles travelled is larger for men at 60.8% compared to women at 39.2 %. But the women drivers in age group 21-25, 26-30, 46-50, 56-60, 66-70 and 71-75 are more than men. This probably because woman besides driving to work are also expected to drive their kids to school, go shopping and drive to run other errands of the house. Unlike men who are expected drive mostly for work and recreational purpose. (NHTS, 2009)

Atlanta MSA Trends

The decrease in vehicular trips made for work in Atlanta is greater compared to the national level. The percentage of vehicular trips made for other reason is larger in Atlanta compared to the national level. Atlanta enlisted as one of the worst cities with traffic. (David Wickert, 2018) So, In order to avoid the heavy traffic, may be the drivers in Atlanta are trip chaining at a larger scale compared to national level.

Ratio of male and female drivers is almost equal. The number of drivers among woman aged 36 and above is more than male. But the male has a larger VMT of 62.5% compared to the female with 37.5%. This is probably because males are driving long distance from suburb to downtown or commuting larger distances for work and recreation compared to females, who are making short trips to work, child’s school and shopping.

The number of drivers in the income group earning more than $100,000 per year is the largest. In the income groups between $15,000 – $19,999 to $65,000 – $69,000, every other income group has a larger number of drivers compared to the income group in between. For e.g. number of drivers in income group $40,000 – $44,999 are less than number of drivers in the income group $35,000 – $39,000 and $45,000 – $49,999. This trend may occur because the people belonging to the income group in between are using both public and private transport for their daily commute. There might be an assumption amongst these people that they could save more by travelling through public transportation or choosing to invest in a house over transport.

The mode of travel used for person trips is largest in Car and SUV. Atlanta’s person trips in Car and SUV is larger compared to the National level. Atlanta has been listed as the most sprawling metro by a research by Smart Growth America. To examine the sprawl the researchers observed four factors, development density, land use mix, activity clustering and street accessibility. The researchers developed a sprawl index based on these factors and cities whose index was more than 100 was considered compact. Atlanta’s sprawl index was 41. (Rebecca Burns, 2014). It is evident that the number of Car users and SUV is largest and more than the national level. The fact that it is enlisted as the biggest sprawling city, more cars and SUV’s can be expected in Atlanta in the coming years contributing to the traffic.

Based on this report, the Atlanta Regional Commission should focus to formulate policy on integrating landuse and transport. This can be achieved through mixed-use development for compact regions which could reduce vehicle trips and VMT. This would reduce long hours of commuting and congestion in the metro. MARTA, is prepared with design and proposals for a mixed-use development in East Lake Station. (Josh Green, 2018) Avalon, a neighborhood in the Atlanta suburb, Alpharetta, is another good example of mixed-use development. (Urban Land Institute Case Studies, 2016)


NHTS (2009),

David Wickert,(2018), How bad is Atlanta traffic? It depends on how you look at it, Retrieved from

Rebecca Burns (2014), Report: Atlanta is the most sprawling big metro in the U.S, Retrieved from ;

Josh Green, 2018, After Public Survey, MARTA’s endeavor for mixed use emerges, Retrieved from;

Urban Land Institute Case Studies, 2016, Avalon


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