Have you ever asked your hairdresser, server or bank cashier where they live? The chances are, the answer is not ‘Princeton’. According to data collected by Ralph Widner, of the Princeton Traffic and Transportation Committee, and presented to Princeton Future (most recently on March 16, 2013), a large majority of the Princeton workforce live outside of town.
Princeton has a daily workforce of 30,805, according to the data, which are based on results of the US Census and American Community Survey. Of these 30,805 people, just 6,442 live in Princeton. That means just 21% of Princeton employees live in Princeton! More than 3 out of every 4 workers commute to Princeton each day.
One outcome of this bizarre arrangement is that we have to set aside a large amount of space in central Princeton for storing cars that are in use for about an hour each day (Princeton area average commute is 28 mins). This is an incredible waste of space. Another problem with ‘importing’ the Princeton workforce from surrounding areas is the huge amount of traffic and pollution that is caused by all that driving. A third problem with car-oriented commuting is that it takes away people who could be shopping and eating in Princeton stores and restaurants. If 24,000 people drive out of Princeton every night, that is 24,000 people who are not sticking around to add to the success of Princeton businesses.
We need to turn this around. Princeton should be a walking town, where local businesses are staffed by local people. Fewer cars journeys will happen when people are able to live locally. Let’s make it happen.