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Data Profile: Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS)
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Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS)
   Overview
Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) data are collected by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). It is the only national source of information on personal travel for all modes of transportation and all trip purposes. NPTS also tracks the economic, social, demographic, and geographic characteristics of the traveler.

Data are collected from a nationally representative sample of households. In 1995, approximately 42,000 households were surveyed. Surveys have been conducted in 1969, 1977, 1983, 1990 and 1995. Information is collected on all trips taken by each household member during a designated 24-hour period, known as the travel day, and on trips 75 miles or more one-way in the two-week period ending on and including the travel day, known as the travel period. In addition to the characteristics of the trip and traveler, the NPTS collects information on, among other things, vehicles, satisfaction with the transportation system, and seat-belt use.

Currently this site provides only 1990 and 1995 data. Data for other years will soon be available.

The latest NPTS is a combination of American Travel Survey (ATS) and NPTS and is known as the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). Data collection for NHTS was completed in 2002 and should be available from this site in the near future. For more details on NHTS please visit the NHTS website.
   Coverage
The survey sample is selected from the 50 States, and the District of Columbia.
   Availability
 
 
First Year1990
Last Year1995
FrequencyVaries
 
   Data Tables
View tables in this database ...
Day Trips (1990)
The Day Trip File contains specific information about each trip taken by respondents during the travel day (typically the day before the interview occurred). Travel day trips were classified as segmented trips if the respondent indicated that some mode of public transportation was used on the trip and a transfer from one vehicle to another took place while using the public transportation.
Day Trips (1995)
The travel day trip file consists of one record for each trip taken by an interviewed person in a useable household.
Households (1990)
The Household File contains household-Level demographics such as geography and household composition.
Households (1995)
The Household File contains household-level demographics such as geography and household composition.
Person Trips (1990)
The Period Trip contains information about longer trips (75 or more miles one-way) that took place during the two weeks prior to a respondent's interview.
Person Trips (1995)
Travel Period Trip consists of data that is asked once for every trip of atleast 75 miles one way that the person took during a 14 day period ending on travel day. A record is present only when a qualifying trip was made by the respondant.
Persons (1990)
The Person File contains person-level characteristics for members of households that participated in the NPTS
Persons (1995)
The Person File contains person-level characteristics for members of households that participated in the NPTS
Segmented Trips (1990)
For segmented trips, additional data are collected for each segment of the trip. All segmented trips are represented in both the Day Trip File and the Segmented Trip File.
Segmented Trips (1995)
Data for upto 4 segments of each segmented travel day trip the person made on travel day . It consists of pieces of travel day trips if transit or Amtrack was used.
Vehicles (1990)
The Vehicle File contains information about each vehicle in responding households.
Vehicles (1995)
The Vehicle File contains information about each vehicle in responding households.
   Summary Tables
 
   National Transportation Statistics
 
Long-Distance Travel in the United States by Selected Traveler Characteristics: 1995 (Roundtrips of 100 miles or more, one way)
Long-Distance Travel in the United States by Selected Trip Characteristics: 1995 (Roundtrips of 100 miles or more, one way, U.S. destinations only)
Principal Means of Transportation to Work
 
   Related Links
 
Metropolitan Planning Organizations - GIS
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
American Community Survey
Auto and Equipment Information
Innovative Surface Transportation Management
International Telework Association and Council
NYMTC Travel Survey
Road-wise Workforce
San Francisco Area DataMart
Traffic Safety and Occupant Protection
 
   Terms and Definitions
Census DivisionGroupings of states that are subdivisions of the four census regions. There are nine divisions, which the Census Bureau adopted in 1910 for the presentation of data.
Census RegionGroupings of states that subdivide the United States for the presentation of data. There are four regions -- Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. Each of the four regions is divided into two or more census divisions.
Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA)A CMSA is a metropolitan complex of I million or more population, containing two or more component parts designated as primary metropolitan statistical areas (PMSAs).
Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA)If an MSA has a population of 1 million or more and meets requirements specified in the standards, it is termed a CMSA, consisting of two or more major components, each of which is recognized as a primary metropolitan statistical areas (PMSA).
DestinationFor travel period trips, the destination is the farthest point of travel from the point of origin of a trip of 75 miles or more one-way. For travel day trips, the destination is the point at which there is a break in travel.
DriverA person who operates a motorized vehicle. If more than one person drives on a single trip, the person who drives the most miles is classified as the principal driver.
Education LevelThe number of years of regular schooling completed in graded public, private, or parochial schools, or in colleges, universities, or professional schools, whether day school or night school. Regular schooling advances a person toward an elementary or high school diploma, or a college, university or professional school degree.
EmployedA person is considered employed if there is a definite arrangement for regular full-time or part-time work for pay every week or every month. A formal, definite arrangement with one or more employers to work a specified number of hours a week, or days a month, but on an irregular schedule during the work month is also considered employment. A person who is on call to work whenever there is a need for his (her) services is not considered employed.
Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS)Federal Information Processing Standards. Usually referring to a code assigned to any of a variety of geographic entities (e.g. counties, states, metropolitan areas, etc). FIPS codes are intended to simplify the collection, processing, and dissemination of data and resources of the Federal Government.
HouseholdA group of persons whose usual place of residence is a specific housing unit; these persons may or may not be related to each other. The total of all U.S. households represents the total civilian non-institutionalized population. Does not include group quarters (i.e., 10 or more persons living together, none of whom are related).
Household IncomeThe money income of all family members in a household, including those temporarily absent. Annual income is asked for the 12 months preceding the interview. Includes income from all sources, such as wages and salary, commissions, tips, cash bonuses, income from a business or farm, pensions, dividends, interest, unemployment or work men's compensation, social security, veterans' payments, rent received from owned property (minus the operating costs), public assistance payments, regular gifts of money from friends or relatives not living in the household, alimony, child support, and other kinds of periodic money income other than earnings. Excludes in-kind income such as room and board, insurance payments, lump-sum inheritances, occasional gifts of money from persons not living in the same household, withdrawal of savings from banks, tax refunds, and the proceeds of the sale of one's house, car or other personal property.
Household MembersAll people, whether present or temporarily absent, whose usual place of residence is in the sample unit. Includes people staying in the sample unit who have no other usual place of residence elsewhere.
Household TripOne or more household members traveling together.
Household VehicleA motorized vehicle that is owned, leased, rented or company owned and available to be used regularly by household members during the travel period. Includes vehicles used solely for business purposes or business-owned vehicles if kept at home and used for the home to work trip, (e.g., taxicabs, police cars, etc.) which may be owned by, or assigned to, household members for their regular use. Includes all vehicles that were owned or available for use by members of the household during the travel period even though a vehicle may have been sold before the interview. Excludes vehicles that were not working and not expected to be working within 60 days, and vehicles that were purchased or received after the designated travel day.
Interstate Highway, Freeway, or ExpresswayA divided arterial highway for through traffic with full or partial control of access and grade separations at major intersections.
Licensed DriverAny person who holds a valid driver's license from any state.
Means of TransportationA mode used for going from one place (origin) to another (destination). Includes private and public modes, as well as walking. For all travel day trips, each change of mode constitutes a separate trip.
Means of TransportationA mode used for going from one place (origin) to another (destination). Includes private and public modes, as well as walking. For all travel day trips, each change of mode constitutes a separate trip. The following transportation modes, grouped by major mode, are included:
Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)An MSA is a county or group of contiguous counties that contains at least one city with a population of 50,000 or more or a Census Bureau-defined urbanized area of at least 50,000 with a metropolitan population of at least 100,000. In addition to the county or counties that contain all or part of the main city or urbanized area, an MSA may contain other counties that are metropolitan in character and are economically and socially integrated with the main city.
Motorized VehicleIncludes all vehicles that are licensed for highway driving. Specifically excluded are snow mobiles, minibikes, etc.
OccupancyThe number of persons, including driver and passenger(s) in a vehicle. NPTS occupancy rates are generally calculated as person miles divided by vehicle miles.
OriginStarting point of a trip.
Other ModesAirplane: Includes commercial airplanes and smaller planes that are available for use by the general public in exchange for a fare. Private planes and helicopters are included under other. Taxi: The use of a taxicab by a driver for hire or by a passenger for fare. Also includes airport limousines. Does not include rental cars if they are privately operated and not picking up passengers in return for fare. Bicycles: Includes bicycles of all speeds and sizes that do not have a motor. The U.S. national passenger railroad service providing intercity train service. Walk: Includes jogging, walking, etc., provided the origin and destination are not the same. School bus: Includes county school buses, private school buses, and buses chartered from private companies for the express purposes of carrying students to or from school and/or school-related activities. MOPED (Motorized Bicycle) : Includes motorized bicycles equipped with a small engine, typically 2 horsepower or less. Also includes minibikes such as dirt bikes and trail bikes. Note that a motorized bicycle may or may not be licensed for highway use. Other. Includes any types of transportation not listed above.
PSUPrimary Sampling Unit
PassengerFor a specific trip, any occupant of a motorized vehicle, other than the driver.
Peak-period TripAny travel day trip that began between 6:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. or from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Person Miles of Travel (PMT)A measure of person travel. When one person travels one mile, one person mile of travel results. Where 2 or more persons travel together in the same vehicle, each person makes the same number of person miles as the vehicle miles. Therefore, four persons traveling 5 miles in the same vehicle, make 4 times 5 or 20 person miles.
Person TripA person trip is a trip by one or more persons in any mode of transportation. Each person is considered as making one person trip. For example, four persons traveling together in one auto make four person trips.
Private VehicleAutomobile: A privately owned and/or operated licensed motorized vehicle including cars, jeeps and station wagons. Also includes leased and rented cars if they are privately operated and not picking up passengers in return for fare. Van: Privately owned and/or operated vans and mini vans designed to carry from 5 to 13 passengers or to haul cargo.Pickup Truck: A motorized vehicle, privately owned and/or operated, with an enclosed cab that usually accommodates 2-3 passengers and an open cargo area in the rear. Pickup trucks usually have about the some wheelbase as a full-size station wagon.Other Truck: All trucks other than pickups, i.e., dump trucks, trailer trucks, etc.RV or Motor Home: Includes self-powered recreational vehicles that are operated as a unit without being towed by another vehicle (e.g., a Winnebago motor home).Motorcycle: Includes large, medium, and small motorcycles. Does not include minibikes, which cannot be licensed for highway use.
Public TransportationBus: Includes intercity buses, mass transit systems, and shuttle buses that are available to the general public. Also includes Dial-A-Bus and Senior Citizen buses that are available to the public. Does not include shuttle buses operated by a government agency or private industry for the convenience of employees, contracted or chartered buses or school buses. Commuter Trains: Includes commuter trains and passenger trains other than elevated trains and subways. Includes local and commuter train service. Does not include intercity service by Amtrak.Streetcar/Trolley: Includes trolleys, streetcars, and cable cars.Elevated Rail/Subway: Includes elevated and subway trains in a city.
Segmented TripA trip that includes at least one transfer.
Traffic AccidentAn accident that involved a motor vehicle that occurred on a public highway or road in the United States and that resulted in property damage or personal injury. Does not include accidents that happened in a parking lot, in a driveway, on a private road, or in a foreign country.
TransferTo change vehicles or means of transportation while traveling between origin and destination.
Travel DayA 24-hour period from 4:00 a.m. to 3:59 a.m. designated as the reference period for studying trips and travel by members of a sampled household.
Travel Day TripA travel day trip is defined as any one-way travel from one address (place) to another by any means of transportation (e.g., private motor vehicle, public transportation, bicycle, or walking). When travel is to more than one destination, a separate trip exists each time one or both of the following criteria is satisfied: the travel time between two destinations exceeds 5 minutes, and/or the purpose for travel to one destination is different from the purpose for travel to another. The one exception is travel within a shopping center or mall. It is to be considered travel to one destination, regardless of the number of stores visited.
Travel PeriodThe 13 days immediately preceding the travel day and the designated travel day for a sampled household, for a total of 14 days.
Travel Period TripA travel period trip is one-way to a destination, which is 75 miles-or-more from home with a return home trip during the 14-day travel period. Travel to the destination is counted as one trip and travel to return home is counted as another trip. For example, a person living in Denver flies to San Francisco, stays one week, and returns to Denver during the 14-day travel period. This would be counted as two travel period trips - one outgoing and one return. The only time a travel period trip would not have a return trip collected is when the respondent moves his/her residence.
Trip PurposeThe main reason that motivated the trip. For purposes of this survey, there are 11 trip reasons. For travel day trips, if there was more than one reason, and the reasons do not involve different destinations, then only the main reason is chosen. If there are two or more reasons, and they each involve different destinations, then each reason is classified as a separate trip. For travel period trips, if there was more than one reason, the primary reason was collected. The 11 trip reasons are defined as follows: To or from Work: Includes travel to a place where one reports for work. Does not include any other work-related travel. Work-related Business: Trips related to business activities except travel to the place of work; for example, a plumber drives to a wholesale dealer to purchase supplies for his business or a company executive travels from his office to another firm to attend a business meeting. Business, out- of-town trips, and professional conventions are also included. Shopping: Includes window-shopping and purchase of commodities such as groceries, furniture, clothing, etc. for use or consumption elsewhere. Doctor/Dentist: Trips made for medical, dental, or psychiatric treatment or other related professional services. Other family or personal business: Includes the purchase of services such as cleaning garments, servicing an automobile, haircuts, banking, legal services, etc. School/Church: Trips to school, college or university for class(es), to PTA meetings, seminars, etc., to church services or to participate in other religious activities. Social activities that take place at a church or school but cannot be classified as religious or educational are not included in this category. Vacation: Trips reported by the respondent as vacation. Visit friends or relatives: Trips made to visit friends or relatives. Pleasure driving: Driving trips made with no other purpose listed but to go for a drive with no destination in mind. Other social or recreational: Trips taken to enjoy some form of social activity involving friends or acquaintances. Includes trips for general entertainment or recreation (both as observer or as participant).Other social or recreational: Trips taken to enjoy some form of social activity involving friends or acquaintances. Includes trips for general entertainment or recreation (both as observer or as participant). Other: For trips that do not fit in any of the other categories.
Urbanized AreaAn approximate classification of sample households as belonging to an urbanized area. Those classified as belonging to an urbanized area were either in a central city of an MSA, or in a MSA but outside the central city, and within a zip code area with a population density of at least 500 people per square mile in 1990.
Vehicle Mile of Travel (VMT)A unit to measure vehicle travel made by a private vehicle, such as an automobile, van, pickup truck, or motorcycle. Each mile traveled is counted as one vehicle mile regardless of the number of persons in the vehicle.
Vehicle OccupancyThe number of persons, including driver and passenger(s) in a vehicle; also includes persons who did not complete a whole trip. NPTS occupancy rates are generally calculated as person miles divided by vehicle miles.
Vehicle TripA trip by a single vehicle regardless of the number of persons in the vehicle.
Vehicle TypeFor purposes of the 1990 NPTS, nine vehicle types are: Automobile (including station wagon) Passenger Van Cargo Van Pickup Truck (including pickup with camper) Other Truck RV or Motor Home Motorcycle Moped (Motorized Bicycle) Other (Specify). See Means of Transportation for definitions of these vehicle types.
 
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