Travel Behavior of Immigrant Groups in California
California is the destination for over one-quarter of immigrants to the United States, and immigrants now make up over one-quarter of the state’s population, with nearly half of immigrants originating in Mexico. To ensure that transportation systems and services adequately meet the needs of recent immigrants, planners need a firm understanding of the travel behavior of immigrant groups. This paper reports on key findings from a three-phased study: (1) analysis of data on commute travel of California immigrants from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Censuses; (2) focus groups with recent Mexican immigrants in six California regions on their transportation experiences and needs in six California regions; and (3) interviews with community-based organizations in nine California regions on the transportation needs and wants of Mexican immigrants. Analysis shows that the car is the most important means of transportation for immigrants; nearly two-thirds of all immigrants use single occupancy vehicles as their primary commute mode, either as drivers or as passengers. However, a disproportionate share of immigrants, particularly those new to the US, commutes by public transit. Mexican immigrants report both advantages and disadvantages of driving and transit, while walking and bicycling help to fill gaps left by these other modes. These findings point to a long list of potential strategies for agencies and organizations to consider in efforts to more effectively meet the transportation needs of Mexican and other immigrants in California.
California PATH Research Report UCB-ITS-PRR-2009-30