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Data Dictionary: ACS 2012 (3-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: C08532. Means of Transportation to Work By Time Arriving at Work From Home For Workplace Geography [55]
Universe: Universe: Workers 16 years and Over who did not work at home
Table Details
C08532. Means of Transportation to Work By Time Arriving at Work From Home For Workplace Geography
Universe: Universe: Workers 16 years and Over who did not work at home
Variable Label
Relevant Documentation:
Means of Transportation to Work
The data on means of transportation to work were derived from answers to Question 31 in 2012 American Community Survey, which was asked of people who indicated in 2012 ACS Question 29 that they worked at some time during the reference week. (See "Reference Week.") Means of transportation to work refers to the principal mode of travel or type of conveyance that the worker usually used to get from home to work during the reference week.

People who used different means of transportation on different days of the week were asked to specify the one they used most often, that is, the greatest number of days. People who used more than one means of transportation to get to work each day were asked to report the one used for the longest distance during the work trip. The category, "Car, truck, or van," includes workers using a car (including company cars but excluding taxicabs), a truck of one- ton capacity or less, or a van. The category, "Public transportation," includes workers who used a bus or trolley bus, streetcar or trolley car, subway or elevated, railroad, or ferryboat, even if each mode is not shown separately in the tabulation. "Carro publico" is included in the public transportation category in Puerto Rico. The category, "Other means," includes workers who used a mode of travel that is not identified separately within the data distribution. The category, "Other means," may vary from table to table, depending on the amount of detail shown in a particular distribution.

The means of transportation data for some areas may show workers using modes of public transportation that are not available in those areas (for example, subway or elevated riders in a metropolitan area where there is no subway or elevated service). This result is largely due to people who worked during the reference week at a location that was different from their usual place of work (such as people away from home on business in an area where subway service was available), and people who used more than one means of transportation each day but whose principal means was unavailable where they lived (for example, residents of nonmetropolitan areas who drove to the fringe of a metropolitan area, and took the commuter railroad most of the distance to work).

Time Arriving at Work from Home
The data on time arriving at work from home were derived from answers to Question 33 (Time Leaving Home to Go to Work) and from answers to Question 34 (Travel Time to Work), both in the 2012 American Community Survey. These questions were asked of people who indicated in 2012 ACS Question 29 that they worked at some time during the reference week, and who reported in 2012 ACS Question 31 that they worked outside their home. The arrival time is calculated by adding the travel time to work to the reported time leaving home to go to work. These data are presented with other characteristics of workers at their workplace. (See "Time Leaving Home to Go to Work" and "Travel Time to Work.")

The responses to the place of work and journey to work questions provide basic knowledge about commuting patterns and the characteristics of commuter travel. The commuting data are essential for planning highway improvement and developing public transportation services, as well as for designing programs to ease traffic problems during peak periods, conserve energy, reduce pollution, and estimate and project the demand for alternative-fueled vehicles. These data are required to develop standards for reducing work-related vehicle trips and increasing passenger occupancy during peak period of travel. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) plans to use county-level data in computing gross commuting flows to develop place-of-residence earning estimates from place-of-work estimates by industry. In addition, BEA also plans to use these data for state personal income estimates for determining federal fund allocations.

Question/Concept History

Starting in 1999, the American Community Survey questions differ from the 1996-1998 questions in that the labels on the write-in spaces and format of the skip instructions were modified to provide clarifications.

Beginning in 2004, the category, "Public transportation" for means of transportation was tabulated to exclude workers who used taxicab as their means of transportation.

The 2004 American Community Survey marked the first time that workplace-based tables were released as a part of a standard census data product.

Limitation of the Data

Beginning in 2006, the group quarters (GQ) population is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations have place of work distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the place of work distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.

The data on place of work is related to a reference week, that is, the calendar week preceding the date on which the respondents completed their questionnaires or were interviewed. This week is not the same for all respondents because data were collected over a 12-month period. The lack of a uniform reference week means that the place-of-work data reported in the survey will not exactly match the distribution of workplace locations observed or measured during an actual workweek.
The place-of-work data are estimates of people 16 years and over who were both employed and at work during the reference week (including people in the Armed Forces). People who did not work during the reference week but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent due to illness, bad weather, industrial dispute, vacation, or other personal reasons are not included in the place-of-work data. Therefore, the data on place of work understate the total number of jobs or total employment in a geographic area during the reference week. It also should be noted that people who had irregular, casual, or unstructured jobs during the reference week might have erroneously reported themselves as not working.

The address where the individual worked most often during the reference week was recorded on the questionnaire. If a worker held two jobs, only data about the primary job (the job where one worked the greatest number of hours during the preceding week) was requested. People who regularly worked in several locations during the reference week were requested to give the address at which they began work each day. For cases in which daily work was not begun at a central place each day, the respondent was asked to provide as much information as possible to describe the area in which he or she worked most during the reference week.


This data source is comparable to the decennial censuses for all journey to work variables. Since both the American Community Survey and the decennial censuses are related to a "reference week" that has some variability, the data do not reflect any single week. Since the American Community Survey data are collected over 12 months, the reference week in American Community Survey has a greater range of variation. (See "Reference Week.")
For more detailed information regarding the difference of place of work and journey to work in the ACS and Census 2000, see Estimates about Journey to Work from the 2005 ACS, C2SS, and Census 2000 on the ACS website (

See 2012 Code List on the ACS website ( for Place of Work Code List.

Workplace-based Geography
The characteristics of workers may be shown using either residence-based or workplace-based geography. If you are interested in the number and characteristics of workers living in a specific area, you should use the standard (residence- based) journey-to-work tables. If you are interested in the number and characteristics of workers who work in a specific area, you should use the workplace-based journey-to-work tables. Because place-of-work information for workers cannot always be specified below the place level, the workplace-based tables are presented only for selected geographic areas.