The NYT reports that “Despite high gasoline prices, the share of commuters driving alone has increased slightly since 2000 while the proportion in car pools dropped and those using mass transit remained about the same, according to a Census Bureau analysis released yesterday.” The rate of carpooling workers fell from 12.2% to 10.7%. [Note: the carpooling rate dipped below 10% in 2011 as this NPR story makes clear.]
Only 5 cities had carpooling rates exceeding 15% of workers in 2006: Phoenix and Mesa, AZ; Sacramento and Fresno, CA; and Honolulu. (CA and AZ rates were boosted by high numbers of immigrants.)
This is obviously bad for social capital in two ways: 1) fewer friendships made and sustained over these rides; and 2) the lower carpool rates are likely a proxy for us liking to do things more independently and coordinating our schedules and lives less with others. The declining rates are a small symptom of the rise of individualism over collectivism.