Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport Among Highest in US for Households That Don’t Own Cars

Whether it is good news or bad news may be in the eye of the beholder.  The percentage of households without a motor vehicle in Hartford is 10th highest in the nation.  New Haven (24th) and Bridgeport (49th) also make the top 50. Some would suggest that lack of car ownership is a reflection of poverty.  Others may point to millennials and others who choose an urban lifestyle specifically because car ownership is less necessary.

In Hartford, 35.7 percent of households do not own cars.  In New Haven it is 29.2 percent; in Bridgeport, 21.2 percent, according to data compiled by Governing magazine, using data from the Census Bureau's 2010-2013 American Community Survey.

Taking cars off streets yields a number of benefits for cities, including helping to attract young people, limiting pollution and facilitating safer roadways for both drivers and pedestrians, explains Norman Garrick, who studies urban planning at the University of Connecticut. That’s part of the reason “cities are really doubling down and trying to reduce use of cars,” he pointed out to Governing magazine in 2015.

Nationwide, about 9 percent of U.S. households didn’t have access to a car in 2013, according to Census data analyzed by Governing -- a figure that has been relatively stable.  Garrick’s past research in Hartford, for example, found 71 percent of employees drove alone to work for an insurance company that charged for parking. Rates for other downtown Hartford employers offering free parking were between 83 and 95 percent.

Among the other Connecticut communities reviewed in the analysis (% of households without cars, ranking):

  • Waterbury          18.2 of HH           69th
  • New Britain        17.7% of HH        74th
  • East Hartford     15.9% of HH        87th
  • West Haven       11.9% of HH        151st
  • Stamford             11.8% of HH        156th
  • Meriden              11.4% of HH        169th
  • Norwalk               9.4% of HH          262nd
  • Danbury               9.3% of HH          271st

Census estimates suggest there were about 1.8 vehicles per U.S. household in 2013. This ratio varies greatly across cities and larger regions. As one would expect, suburban jurisdictions tend to have greater car ownership than more densely-populated cities. Data was included for all cities (794) with at least 50,000 residents.