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Thank you to the following organizations for their continued support of our research and this Data Dashboard, which is part of Project STIR (Sparking Transformation using Information & Research).

Moses Taylor Foundation
The Robert H. Spitz Foundation
Willary Foundation
Scranton Area Community Foundation
William G. McGowan Charitable Fund
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Infrastructure

The Infrastructure section of this report contains data that identifies patterns and trends in commuting, transportation infrastructure, motor vehicles, home heating fuels, energy prices, and home internet access.

Commuting to Work

Despite some slight shifts from year to year, driving alone remains the most common way to commute in both Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties. Nearly four fifths of the region’s workers do so. By 2019, this percentage fell in both counties but remained higher than the statewide rate of 75.2 percent. Among alternative modes of transportation, carpooling remains the most frequently utilized. Public transportation usage has generally fluctuated around or just under one percent of workers in the region, well below the statewide share of over five percent.

From 2000 to 2019, the average travel time to work increased by over two minutes in Lackawanna County (reaching 22 minutes) and by over three minutes in Luzerne County (reaching 24.3 minutes). Both counties reached new highs for commute time in 2019 for the second straight year. However, the mean travel time to work is lower in both counties than in the Commonwealth as a whole, which grew to 27.8 minutes in 2019 – over 2.5 minutes longer than in 2000.

2019 Lackawanna County Commuting Type

Source: US Census Bureau American Community Survey

2019 Luzerne County Commuting Type

Source: US Census Bureau American Community Survey

2019 Luzerne County Commuting Type

Source: US Census Bureau American Community Survey

Mean travel time to work (minutes)

Source: US Census Bureau American Community Survey

Vehicles per Household

The estimated share of households with no vehicles available has fluctuated in both counties, averaging just over ten percent throughout the past several years – lower than the statewide rate. In the most recent data, the total number and percent of zero-vehicle households fell in Luzerne County, while Lackawanna County saw its share increase to 11.2 percent, the highest in recent years and above the statewide rate. Across the region, over 23,000 households do not have a vehicle.

% of Households with No Vehicle Available

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

Traffic Counts

In Lackawanna County, there are over 143 linear miles of highway that are part of the National Highway System. In Luzerne County, there are about 178 miles in the National Highway System, which includes interstate highways and certain other critical highways. Daily Vehicle Miles of Travel (DVMT, the total number of miles driven by all vehicles per day) on the National Highway System in the two counties is over 7.5 million – about 4.7 percent of the statewide DVMT.

The DVMT per mile of highway, a measure of average traffic volume, is lower in Lackawanna County but higher in Luzerne County than the statewide average. Between 2018 and 2019, DVMT in the two counties grew by just over one percent.

The two counties have several permanent traffic count sites that measure traffic volume and speed data on a continuous basis. The local sites include Interstate 81 in Wilkes-Barre Township, Interstate 80 in Foster Township, and State Route 307 in Newton Township. No data since 2016 was available for the Foster Township location. Traffic counts are conducted less frequently in other locations within the two counties, so that data is not reported here.

The past five years saw significant growth in traffic volume in both I-81 in Wilkes-Barre Township and I-80 in Foster Township (to the extent to which data is available). Average daily traffic on Interstate 81 in Wilkes-Barre Township has risen five percent between 2015 and 2019.

Daily Vehicle Miles of Travel: 2019

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

DVMTNational Highway Linear MilesDVMT per Linear Mile
Lackawanna3,132,096143.721,796.1
Luzerne4,371,283177.824,585.4
Pennsylvania158,011,5987,170.022,037.9

Bridges

In 2018, the Federal Highway Administration’s National Bridge Inventory changed its procedures for bridge evaluation and no longer reports the number of structurally deficient bridges. Instead, bridges are categorized as good, fair, or poor.

Between Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, 792 bridges were counted in the 2020 National Bridge Inventory. Of those bridges, 20.9 percent and 26.2 percent of bridges were classified as poor in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, respectively. For both counties, this is a marginal decrease from the prior year. Statewide, there has been a more marked decreasing trend in the share of bridges rated in poor condition.

% of Bridges in Poor Condition

Source: Federal Highway Administration National Bridge Inventory

Motor Vehicle Registrations

Lackawanna County passenger vehicle registrations have increased considerably compared with those in 2000. However, the county total of 121,595 registered passenger vehicles represents a notable decline since 2016. Luzerne County passenger car registrations have fluctuated, and in 2020 rose to the highest level since 2016 but still about one percent lower than in 2000. Overall, the two-county region has seen a 1.7 percent increase in passenger car registrations from 2000 to 2020, with a year-over-year growth of nearly one percent from 2019 to 2020. Statewide, there has been more consistent growth in passenger car registrations since 2000, though there have been declines in the total for the past two years.

Both counties and the state have seen a generally increasing trend in the number of registered trucks over 5,000 pounds. The number of registered trucks under 5,000 pounds continued to decrease in both counties and across the state, and it appears as though these trucks are being replaced by larger trucks in higher weight classifications. Since 2000, the number of registered trucks over 5,000 pounds has increased by 147 percent in the two county region. During the same time period, the statewide number of registrations of trucks over 5,000 pounds grew by 125 percent.

Motor Vehicle Registrations: 2 County Region

Registered in 2020Change Since 2019Change Since 2000
Cars314,2620.9%1.7%
Motorcycles13,7142.2%66.2%
Trucks < 5k lbs.15,751-5.4%-61.8%
Trucks > 5k lbs.69,7453.1%147.0%
Trailers51,8541.1%55.5%

Home Heating Fuel

Utility gas has remained the most widespread method of home heating fuel in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties from 2000 to 2019. Natural gas remains the heating fuel for over half the homes in Luzerne County and over two-thirds of homes in Lackawanna County.

Since 2000, electricity has eclipsed fuel oil as the second largest home heating source. However, the share of homes heated by electricity declined in both counties in 2019.

Other energy sources, including coal and propane, comprise much smaller shares. Statewide trends have been similar, with a slower shift toward natural gas and electricity amid generally declining use of fuel oil.

Lackawanna Home Heating Fuel

Source: US Census Bureau American Community Survey

Luzerne Home Heating Fuel

Source: US Census Bureau American Community Survey

Pennsylvania Home Heating Fuel

Source: US Census Bureau American Community Survey

Energy Price Trends

In 2020, several sources of heating energy fell in price. Oil and propane costs both fell by over 14 percent between 2019 and 2020. Electricity prices fell by a small margin, while natural gas costs grew by eight percent. Despite this increase, natural gas has remained the lowest cost energy source of the four analyzed during each year since 2010. Propane and electricity have been the highest cost energy sources, though propane costs have declined considerably in the past two years.

Energy Price Trends (in US Dollars)

Source: UGI Utilities

Internet Access

The share of households with any internet subscription has been growing since detailed data has been kept by the Census Bureau (2015). As of 2019, about 85 percent of the region’s households have internet subscriptions (compared with 86 percent statewide). About 81 percent of households in the region have smartphones – a proportion that grew considerably from 66 percent in 2016. While internet access is less widespread among lower income households, nearly 69 percent of regional and statewide households with annual income under $20,000 have internet access. Over the last five years, the share of low income households with internet access has grown at a faster pace than among all households.

Households with Any Internet Subscription

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

Households with a Smartphone

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey