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Commute In Hell

February 01, 1990|Clipboard researched by Janice L. Jones / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

Orange County commuters have no doubt traffic is getting worse on their daily commute. A sizeable majority, 60%, report worsening congestion during the time they have been making their trips to work. In 1982 just 39% said the same thing.

And while majorities in all groups agree, there are differences. South County commuters are considerably more likely to say congestion is getting worse as are those 35 and older and people with higher incomes.

Full-time workers are noticing growing congestion more than are part-timers as are those who drive alone or car/van pool rather than use public transportation or some other method of commuting.

As commuters report worsening congestion, so are they more likely now than in 1982 to say this congestion is a problem for them. Today, 64% say they have at least a slight problem with traffic while commuting, up from 53% in 1982. Commuters in the high income bracket are most likely to report having problems on the way to work. Residents 35 to 54 years old are more likely to report a problem, too. There are no real differences by region.

Commuting problems and perceived congestion may continue to mount, but not so much that they have driven county residents out of their cars. A huge majority of commuters, 84%, drive alone to work, virtually the same as in 1982. There are no regional differences, but those with household incomes in excess of $50,000 are slightly more likely than others to commute solo.

Here's how commuters view the traffic situation on a typical day:

Gotten Gotten Stayed City Better Worse Same TOTAL 6% 60% 34% AGE 18-34 years 7 51 42 35-54 5 67 28 55 and older 4 62 34 REGION North 4 57 39 West 9 57 34 Central 6 54 40 South 6 69 25 HOUSEHOLD INCOME Less than $36,000 7 52 41 $36,000-$50,000 5 62 33 More than $50,000 6 63 31 EMPLOYMENT STATUS Work full-time 6 62 32 Work part-time 5 50 45 COMMUTING METHOD Drive alone to work 6 60 34 Car/van pool 10 60 30 Public transit/other 2 51 47 COMMUTE CONGESTION No problem 8 38 54 Slight problem 6 63 31 Great problem 3 82 15

Note: Cities included in four regions are:

North: Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra, Orange, Placentia, Villa Park, Yorba Linda.

West: Cypress, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Midway City, Rossmoor, Stanton, Seal Beach, Westminster.

Central: Costa Mesa, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Tustin, Tustin Foothills.

South: Capistrano Beach, Dana Point, El Toro, Emerald Bay, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Silverado, South Laguna.

Commuter Viewpoint

Commute alone: 1982: 82% 1989: 84%

Traffic congestion: 1982: 53% 1989: 64%

Traffic congestion worse: 1982: 39% 1989: 60%

Source: Orange County Annual Survey by Mark Baldassare

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