1969 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey


The 1969 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey was the first in a series of Nationwide Personal Transportation Surveys within the newly created U.S. Department of Transportation. This first NPTS was designed to obtain up-to-date information on national patterns of travel. Earlier surveys, limited primarily to automobile and truck travel, were conducted in a number of States between 1930-1940 and in 1951-1959. In April of 1961, a national survey was conducted to estimate characteristics of travel and ownership and use of automobiles. In this 1969 national survey, family income data were available which could be related related to travel patterns.

Survey Procedures

Data for the 1969 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey were collected in 1969-1970 by the Bureau of the Census within the Department of Commerce for the newly created Federal Highway Administration (previously the Bureau of Public Roads).

This survey was based on a multi-stage probability sample of housing units located in 235 sample areas, comprising 485 counties and independent cities, representing every State and the District of Columbia. The 235 sample areas were selected by grouping all the Nation's counties and independent cities into about 1,900 primary sample units (PSU's) and further forming 235 strata containing one or more PSU's that was relatively homogeneous according to socio-economic characteristics. Within each PSU, a probability sample of housing units was selected to represent the civilian non-institutionalized population.

The households in the Surey comprised two outgoing panels in the Quarterly Housing Survey (QHS) conducted by the Bureau of the Census. One panel was interviewed in April, July, and October of 1969 and January of 1970. The second paned was interviewed only in August, 1969.

Experienced field staff of the Bureau of the Census were assigned to the Survey. Training consisted of a one-day session for field supervisors by Washington office personnel, and a one-day session of training of the interviewers by field supervisors. In addition, interviewers were assigned home-study exercises to be turned in before each interview period. The interviewers were also observed periodically by field office supervisory personnel.

The completed questionnaires were edited first in the Census regional field office, and later in the Washington office. The data were coded, put on tapes and machanically edited. An edited tape for each survey month was furnished to the Federal Highway Administration for processing.

At the first visit to a selected household (panel 1 during April 1969), sections I through VII of the household questionnaire were completed as well as a control card which entered data on characteristics of the household such as income, auto ownership, and age and sex of the persons within the households. Only Section VI and VII of the questionnaire were completed at subsequent interviews at the households in panel 1.

Sampling Variability

The Survey was based on a probability sample and the estimates were subject to sampling variability. The term sampling variability refers to the expected differences between the results of the survey and those that would have been obtained had a complete census been taken.

Some items such as person or household characteristics, or number of vehicles, were collected only during the first visit to a household in April or in August. Standard errors of estimates and measures of sampling variability were calculated from data collected those two month. Estimates of the standard errors for charcteristics of vehicle trips and vehicle miles were determined from variance functions fitted to the data collected during the five month of interviewing.

Highlights from the 1969 Survey

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Last updated February 4, 1999

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