Walkway Over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie, New York
Our transportation system has one simple, fundamental purpose: to serve people, whether for their own personal travel or the movement of the goods and services they need. It helps to understand the nature of the people we serve, since they are the single most important influence on our transportation system. Where we choose to live, work, and shop, and how we choose to get there are the reasons we have roads, sidewalks, buses, and trains.
Dutchess County is home to almost 294,000 people who live in a mix of urban, suburban and rural settings across 30 municipalities. The county’s southwestern quadrant – stretching north from the Beacon-Fishkill area, through Wappinger-Wappingers Falls, to the Poughkeepsie-Hyde Park area – supports our most densely populated communities. This collection of two cities, four towns, and two villages encompasses over half of the county’s population and constitutes our core urbanized area. The City and Town of Poughkeepsie combined account for more than a quarter of the county’s total population. In contrast, the county’s northern and eastern communities (ten rural towns and five villages) are home to less than 18 percent of the county’s population, though they make up over half of the county’s land area. This variation in population density creates unique transportation needs and priorities across our county.
Diversity across our county remains one of our strengths. Understanding this diversity is central from a transportation equity standpoint. More than 18 percent of the county’s population belongs to a Census-defined minority group, while 12 percent of our population identifies as Hispanic. The Poughkeepsie, Wappingers Falls, and Beacon-Fishkill areas have the highest shares of minority and Hispanic populations, with the eastern parts of the county also home to high shares of Hispanic residents.
Young people and older adults have different transportation needs than other populations: they are less likely to drive, and more likely to walk, bicycle, and use specialized transportation services. Almost a third of the county’s population, about 100,000 people, is either 65 and older or 16 and younger. The significant number of older adults and young people require us to carefully consider their transportation needs now and moving forward.
Besides age, income also influences how people use the transportation system. Higher-income households tend to have more vehicles and are more likely to travel by car, whereas lower-income households may have limited access to a vehicle and are more likely to travel by transit, particularly bus, or by walking and bicycling. Although the county’s median household income of $81,000 is higher than national and state levels, nine percent of the county’s population lives below the national poverty level and more than eight percent of all county households do not have a vehicle available for transportation. The Poughkeepsie and Dover areas have the highest share of low-income populations in the county, while the City of Poughkeepsie has the highest share of households without a vehicle available (over 25 percent).
Where we live and what type of housing we live in also plays a key role in how and where we travel. There are almost 120,500 housing units across the county, with 65 percent defined as single-family detached units. Many of these single-family homes are in the county’s more suburban and rural communities, with urbanized areas such as Beacon, Fishkill, Poughkeepsie, and Wappingers Falls having higher shares of multi-family units (half or more of their housing). Almost 90 percent of all housing units are occupied, and these occupied units, or households, support an average of 2.6 people. About two-thirds of housing in the county is owner-occupied, with a third renter-occupied.
Where we work plays an important role in our travel patterns. Commuting to work is a common reason why we travel, so a significant change in employment and the economy can influence our transportation system – not only affecting why we travel but our financial ability to do so. About 144,000 people make up the county’s work force (defined as employed residents aged 16 and over), and about two-thirds work in Dutchess County. Over 111,000 people work in Dutchess County, and while many are county residents, about a quarter come from outside the county.
The number of registered passenger vehicles has grown every year since 2011, reaching an all-time high of almost 219,000 vehicles in 2018. And we use these vehicles for 81 percent of all our trips, and 76 percent of our trips to work.
When we look at the reasons why we travel in Dutchess County, commuting to work is not our primary purpose: returning home, shopping, and running errands are the most common reasons why we travel. And in a post-COVID environment, we can expect to see even fewer work trips as more people work from home.
Many factors influence our travel choices. Regardless of these choices and their impacts, our transportation system still needs to help us live our lives, earn a living, and pursue our interests, and to do so within our neighborhoods, across the county, and throughout the region.
|Town of Poughkeepsie||44,062||15%|
|City of Poughkeepsie||30,515||10%|
|Town of East Fishkill||29,527||10%|
|Town of Wappinger||26,716||9%|
|Town of Fishkill||24,096||8%|
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Click on image to enlarge
Click on image to enlarge
|New York City||6%|
Planning Program (CTPP)
|Hotel & Food||9,174||8%|
Employer-Household Dynamics program)
|Work at Home||6%|