Even in Maine more people are going without cars

Maine households increasingly have ditched personal vehicles, following a national rise in the share of homes without cars.

Screen Shot 2016-12-29 at 12.30.37 PMThe trend appears in the latest batch of census survey data, comparing estimates from the period 2006-2010 to estimates covering 2011-2015.

Maine and Vermont were some of the smallest and certainly most rural among those where the share of no-car households increased.

The relevant census survey question asks are kept at the home for use by residents.

The share of no-car households rose most in the state’s most urban counties, but it also showed a statistically significant rise in Oxford, Hancock and Washington counties.

A still deeper dive into the data puts uncertainty over the estimates in much of the state, but demographers found almost certain signs of the trend in Ellsworth, Gardiner, Auburn, Bangor, Saco and in and around Topsham.

They found definite signs of increased car availability in and around Caribou, Sanford and Augusta, but the surveys don’t divine a cause.

Urban planner and historian Sarah Jo Peterson wrote about the national and city-level trends in a recent blog post and concluded that the trend’s appearance in rural states like Maine mean going car-free “isn’t just an urban hipster trend.”

While it may not involve hipsters, a deeper dive into the Maine data does show urban areas are the places where car access is becoming less common.

Portland, South Portland and Lewiston all had estimated increases in the number of carless households, but the change was not statistically significant.


Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.