How many carless workers are there really?

Even when it comes to workers, we often overstate the ubiquity of cars. One common way to measure car access, for example, is the percentage of workers with “access to a car.” In practice, “access” just means that someone in your household owns a vehicle. But that kind of “access” doesn’t always mean much. For example, for several years I lived in a household with three working adults, one of whom owned a car. By the standard measure, all three of us had “access.” But in reality, only one of us could actually use it to commute. Moreover, even the one of us who drove to work really depended, in a meaningful sense, on public transit: if the other two of us hadn’t been able to get to work, get paid, and contribute our share of the rent, the one driver would still be in deep trouble. In other words, a household with at least one worker who doesn’t drive is a household that probably depends on some kind of non-car transportation.