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Rise of the Megacommuter

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About 8.1 percent of U.S. workers have commutes of 60 minutes or longer and nearly  600,000 have “megacommutes” of at least 90 minutes and 50 miles.

Census Bureau (“Megacommuters: 600,000 in U.S. Travel 90 Minutes and 50 Miles to Work, and 10.8 Million Travel an Hour Each Way, Census Bureau Reports“):

About 8.1 percent of U.S. workers have commutes of 60 minutes or longer, 4.3 percent work from home, and nearly 600,000 full-time workers had “megacommutes” of at least 90 minutes and 50 miles. The average one-way daily commute for workers across the country is 25.5 minutes, and one in four commuters leave their county to work.

These figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, which provides local statistics on a variety of topics for even the smallest communities.

According to Out-of-State and Long Commutes: 2011, 23.0 percent of workers with long commutes (60 minutes or more) use public transit, compared with 5.3 percent for all workers. Only 61.1 percent of workers with long commutes drove to work alone, compared with 79.9 percent for all workers who worked outside the home.

“The average travel time for workers who commute by public transportation is higher than that of workers who use other modes. For some workers, using transit is a necessity, but others simply choose a longer travel time over sitting in traffic,” said Brian McKenzie, a Census Bureau statistician and author of the brief.

Rail travel accounted for 11.8 percent of workers with long commutes, and other forms of public transportation accounted for 11.2 percent.

Workers who live in New York state show the highest rate of long commutes at 16.2 percent, followed by Maryland and New Jersey at 14.8 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. The estimates for Maryland and New Jersey are not statistically different from each other. These states and several others with high rates of long commutes contain or are adjacent to large metropolitan areas.

Based on the 2006-2010 American Community Survey, 586,805 full-time workers are mega commuters — one in 122 of full-time workers. Mega commuters were more likely to be male, older, married, make a higher salary, and have a spouse who does not work. Of the total mega commutes, 75.4 percent were male and 24.6 percent women. Mega commuters were also more likely to depart for work before 6 a.m. Metro areas with large populations tend to attract large flows of mega commuters, according to Mega Commuting in the U.S.

Commuting Across County Lines

More than a fourth of all U.S. workers commute outside the county where they live, according to County-to-County Commuting Flows: 2006-2010, a report on commutes between counties. About 27.4 percent of all U.S. workers traveled outside the county where they live for work during a typical week, compared with 26.7 percent in 2000.

Small counties and county equivalents dominate the list of counties with the highest percentage of workers commuting outside the county where they live. Several of these counties are in Virginia or Georgia within close proximity to metro areas such as Washington, D.C., and Atlanta: including Manassas Park, Va. (91.2 percent), Echols County, Ga. (85.3 percent), Storey County, Ga. (84.6 percent), Camden County, N.C. (83.2 percent), Long County, Ga. (82.1 percent), Carroll County, Miss. (81.8 percent), and Falls Church, Va. (81.8 percent). Because of the margins of error, these percentages are not statistically different from several of the others.

Three counties in the New York City metropolitan area had the highest number of commuters leaving the county where they live for another county. They include workers living in Kings County (Brooklyn), Queens County (Queens) and Bronx County (The Bronx) traveling to New York County (Manhattan) for work.

Workers commuting from Los Angeles County to Orange County, and from Orange County to Los Angeles County in California represented the fourth and fifth largest flows of commuters across county lines, followed by three combinations in the Houston or Dallas metro areas in Texas.

Out-of-State Commutes

The Census Bureau also examined workers who commute across state lines.

In five states and the District of Columbia, one in 10 workers lived in a different state, according to the <Out-of-State and Long Commutes: 2011 brief. Among these are several small Eastern states, including Delaware (14.8 percent), Rhode Island (12.8 percent), New Hampshire (10.8 percent) and West Virginia (10.0 percent). North Dakota also showed a high rate of workers who live in a different state at 11.6 percent. The percentages for New Hampshire and North Dakota are not statistically different from each other.

Among all workers in the District of Columbia, 72.4 percent live in a different state. Workers from just two states, Maryland and Virginia, accounted for 70.4 percent who work in the District of Columbia.

“The District of Columbia is a job center for all of its adjoining counties in Maryland and Virginia,” McKenzie said. “No other state’s workforce exceeded 20.0 percent in its rate of out-of-state commuters.”

That the DC area has long commutes is a subject of endless fascination for locals.

WaPo (“Washington has one of the highest levels of extreme commutes in the U.S.“):

Even in a region where marathon commutes are commonplace, Angela Barber’s trek to work is brutally long.

She rises in her Hagerstown, Md., home at 4:45 a.m. and heads out the door half an hour or so later. It usually takes her two hours to drive down Interstate 270 and Connecticut Avenue to her Dupont Circle job as a legal secretary at a nonprofit. In bad weather, the trip home has taken as long as five hours.

“I can’t afford to leave this job, and I can’t afford to move,” said Barber, 46, who has been making the commute for nine years. “I have a good job, it’s just 74 miles from home.”

Barber is one of a growing number of “mega-commuters” whose daily trip to work spans more than 50 miles and 90 minutes, according to new census figures released Monday. About 600,000 Americans endure such an extreme commute, and more than a quarter of them live in the Washington area. Almost 4 percent of the region’s workers are mega-commuters, up from 3.5 percent in 2000, according to census data. That proportion is rivaled by workers in New York City and surpassed, just barely, only by San Francisco.

One in five commuters in the region has a commute of one hour or longer each way. And the average commute is creeping up, too, from under 32 minutes in 2000 to 34 and a half minutes in 2011, when the information was collected.

The census figures reflect a sprawling region in which more than half of all residents work outside the county or city where they live. Sociologists and demographers say that is partly because the region’s affluence is built on households that pull in two incomes, so living close to the office of one breadwinner is not the priority it once was. But it also is a byproduct of an economy still heavily reliant on the federal government, with many workplaces rooted in the District. Three out of four jobs in the District are held by people who live outside the city limits, according to census data.

It’s impractical to simply move close to work for a host of reasons.

The DC area is unusual in that the metroplex is spread over a tiny federal District and the two adjoining states, Maryland and Virginia. It’s not at all uncommon for one spouse to work in Maryland and the other in Virginia, much less for one to work in DC and the other in the suburbs. Even if both work in relatively close proximity to one another, there’s a great likelihood that one will take a new job that suddenly requires a commute.

Further, housing is very expensive in the District and the very near suburbs. People who don’t make a handsome salary and want or need more than a studio apartment in a bad neighborhood can’t afford to live in DC proper, much less within easy reach of downtown. The bursting of the housing bubble has exacerbated that problem, with many of us in a position to lose a lot of money if we sell.

There’s also the matter of public schools. DC’s are among the worst in the country. Some of the best in the country are in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

Since moving to the area a little over a decade ago, I’ve lived in in the Loudoun County exurbs, initially within 10 minutes of my job and then 45 minutes away from my follow-on job in Falls Church. I got married and moved to Alexandria, which meant a 45 minute commute in the other direction to Falls Church. When we moved into my current house, it was 15 minutes from my wife’s job and I worked from our home office downstairs. Now, I’ve got a 45 minute commute into downtown DC.

My office colleagues live all over. Most of the young singles live in the District, sacrificing living space for the social scene. Most of the senior staff live in the suburbs. At least a couple live in the far exurbs and endure megacommutes so that they can have a nice plot of land and live away from the hustle and bustle.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. superdestroyer says:

    This articles shows why urban planners are foolish when they talk about living, working, and shopping in a walk-able neighborhood. No one is going to limit their job search to where they can walk. Someone laid off in DC will look at far as Fredrick Maryland or Baltimore for job openings.

    What the government could do in DC to limit commutes and traffic is to try to better manage jobs to where people live. There are 10,000’s of budget analyst who work for the government and who pass each other on the way to work. Why not allow job swaps so that GS-12 budget analyst or personnel specialist work close to home.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  2. John Burgess says:

    I think most federal agencies would do well to simply move out of DC. There’s really no reason why, say, the Dept. of Agriculture couldn’t move the bulk of its operations to Iowa or HHS to western PA. Leave a small headquarters office with the Secretary in DC for the all-important facetime on the Hill or at the White House.

    Video technology can adequately fill the gaps for inter-office meetings from diffused locations.

    Not only do the various departments gain a presence where their work is being done, not only would this boost regional economies, but the workers will likely find a lower cost of living.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  3. michael says:

    I can’t believe this post doesn’t mention land use regulation when talking about DC.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Mikey says:

    My commute has improved, but not because I moved–my employer moved. So now instead of a 35-minute drive from Fairfax to Tysons Corner, I have a 15-minute drive from Farifax to…Farifax.

    I have colleagues who live as far west as Front Royal (about 45 miles). They have larger houses than I do, but they commute for over an hour one way. I’ll definitely take living in a townhouse if it means 90 extra minutes with my family every day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Further, housing is very expensive in the District and the very near suburbs. People who don’t make a handsome salary and want or need more than a studio apartment in a bad neighborhood can’t afford to live in DC proper, much less within easy reach of downtown.

    Wait a minute. Doesn’t DC have strict “rent control?” Oh, right, never mind.

    There’s also the matter of public schools. DC’s are among the worst in the country.

    How many layers of political irony are contained in those two sentences?

    In any event, I love this topic, because it touches upon so many issues — demographics, economics, public finance, business management — which receive short shrift treatment on the Internet and from the mass media.

    Here are some other elephants in the room:

    – What about gas prices? The long-term trend for consumers is bleak, especially as the Fed continues its reckless policies. Ultimately severe currency debasement is inevitable and all other things being equal currency debasement = skyrocketing commodity costs. And of course the left will fight tooth and nail until the end of days against more refining capacity. Pretty soon we might very well be looking at Europe-style gas prices, e.g., $5.0 – $6.0 per gallon or more. Granted, the rich defense contractor and the rich stockbroker driving 50 miles to work won’t be affected, but what about middle class workers with megacommutes? Not good.

    – What about spending priorities on public infrastructure? Every state and federal dollar spent to harass industries with OSHA and DOL inspectors, for example, or to give Sparky von Space Cadet a philosophy degree, or to pay people not to search for work, to to study the effects of dams on wildlife, or to provide largesse to the able-bodied, is one less dollar to be spent on such items as roads, tunnels and bridges. Driving 50 miles or more to work is one thing. Driving 50 miles to work over soon-to-collapse bridges is quite another thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  6. C. Clavin says:

    Holy talking points Batman…one comment from Tsar and I have my RDA for BS.
    Seriously…in one paragraph he/she is worried about middle-class workers…in the next he/she bitches about OSHA and DOL inspecters.

    “…How many layers of political irony are contained in those two sentences?…”

    I’m sure it’s lost on him/her.
    If Tsar was a stock I would short it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  7. Joe says:

    When I realized almost 20 years ago that our Capitol Hill row house was too small for the family we were starting, I considered the problem of buying a house we could afford along with the commute that went with it. I solved my commute problem by moving to Illinois, where it took me 8 minutes to get to work, 10 if I dropped the kids at school on the way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. James Joyner says:

    @John Burgess: I would make a lot of sense economically and for security reasons, that’s for sure.

    @michael: Every post isn’t about everything.

    @Joe: That works great if you’re in an industry that’s not geographically bound. I’m in the foreign policy business. Most of the work is in capital cities. In the US, it’s here or New York unless you’re teaching college or in one of a handful of think tanks that aren’t in DC. And the problem with those jobs is they’re the only game in town. If I were to move to Santa Monica to work for RAND, for example, I’d have to move again if I wanted to leave RAND.

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  9. Franklin says:

    Who cares? Marissa Mayer is fine with all of this. Who needs those “computers” with “video conferencing” and nonsense like that, when you can simply drive for three hours a day, which is extraordinarily productive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. JKB says:

    We don’t need no urbanization, we don’t need no city hall control. Long commutes across the nation. Planners leave those commuters alone.

    I read recently that even the Hipsters are starting to move out into the “suburbs”. They grow up so fast and want more out of life than can be found in a crowded urban area no matter how many coats of paint you throw over it.

    If gas goes up, we may see either a realignment of companies toward the places people want to live or an increase in dispersed telecommuting. Perhaps even normal employees now becoming contractors so the can control where they work, they and employers adapt to the damaging effects of gov’t mandates on employment and diversify their sources of income to avoid catastrophic loss if due to one employer failing or cutting back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  11. MBunge says:

    As somebody who’s never lived in a city bigger than Madison, WI (population about 236 thousand), may I point out that this is perhaps THE great disadvantage of major urban centers. Yeah, we folks out in the sticks may not have yall’s high falutin’ cultural options or much open after 11 PM, but we’ve really got to go out of our way to have more than a 20 minute commute in the morning.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  12. A says:

    You know I feel like this survey doesn’t really address the pros and cons of a longer commute. I for one would rather sit on the train for an hour and be able to read, watch a new TV show, or otherwise occupy my time than sit in a car for 30 minutes with nothing but the radio.

    I also wonder how much the New York City commuters skew the across county lines figure. Going from Kings (Brooklyn) to Manhattan could be as short as a 10 minute ride. Hardly something would be considered grueling or inconvenient.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. JKB says:

    @John Burgess: I think most federal agencies would do well to simply move out of DC.

    That won’t happen as sitting atop one or more buildings filled with employee is a prestige matter for the top DC bureaucrats and politicals. I tried for several years to move my group out of beltway to to a suburban office park with a warehouse bay thus avoiding lots of travel cost for field support. Fiefdoms are the dominate factor in DC. Even if it compromises security.

    DC is the one place I expect will keep its jobs in the inner core. Everywhere else outside of government, cost and efficiency are driving factors. Although the sequester can have a salubrious effect as real cuts in funding eventually force an examination of long out of date systems and processes with many being halted or replaced with modern technology and methods. I’ve seen it happen. It is beautiful. It can actually give you the sense that even in government there can be progress if you apply the right fiscal pressure to the bureaucrats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  14. Chris says:

    I ended up with periods of this when I worked as a consultant. My firm counted any project more than 2 hrs from home as one where you could claim for a hotel, and for 9 months I ended up commuting 90mins each way to work. The flipside was that when I *could* claim for a hotel there were periods of time when my commute was 90 seconds, not 90 minutes. I agree with other posters that with moving home being such a big hassle and expense, if you live in a suburban areaof a big metro city, its tempting to stay put when your employment situation changes – especially if your partner has a job they are secure in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Rafer Janders says:

    @A:

    I also wonder how much the New York City commuters skew the across county lines figure. Going from Kings (Brooklyn) to Manhattan could be as short as a 10 minute ride. Hardly something would be considered grueling or inconvenient.

    It can be shorter. Brooklyn Heights (Kings County) to Wall Street (New York County) is a five minute subway ride.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Trumwill Mobile says:

    I had a 3-hour round trip commute for a while until my employer let me time shift. It was pretty horrible. My wife had a job where she couldn’t commute at all and I couldn’t find a near job. I think the solution will likely involve more suburban employers. Or maybe time shifting and telecommuting, but I would bet more on the former.

    As for DC, we need to move our capital to Nebraska. Let congress and the White House stay in DC, bbut move administrative function.

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  17. Dave Schuler says:

    How do you disaggregate “impractical” from “don’t wanna”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. Dave Schuler says:

    @Trumwill Mobile:

    As for DC, we need to move our capital to Nebraska. Let congress and the White House stay in DC, bbut move administrative function.

    Robert Byrd did a pretty fair job of moving administrative functions of the federal government to West Virginia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Trumwill Mobile says:

    @Dave Schuler: Just the other day I was actually reading about people who commute from WV to DC. Wild.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    Three counties in the New York City metropolitan area had the highest number of commuters leaving the county where they live for another county. They include workers living in Kings County (Brooklyn), Queens County (Queens) and Bronx County (The Bronx) traveling to New York County (Manhattan) for work.

    It should be noted that this cross-county travel is actually all within the same city. Unlike some other major metro areas, New York City is divided among five different boroughs, with each borough also being its own county. So while you may be traveling from county to county, you’re never actually leaving the bounds of New York City.

    This isn’t the case with a lot of other major metro areas, where the city occupies only (or mostly only) one county (Chicago and Cook County, San Francisco and San Francisco County, Seattle and King County, Miami and Miami-Dade County, etc.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. bk says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    How many layers of political irony are contained in those two sentences?

    Actually? None, Alanis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  22. NickTamere says:

    These mega-commutes are barely “sustainable” at current gas prices; if/when gas prices go up significantly people won’t make any money after spending 3+ hours per day in a car burning fuel, not to mention the property values of these “exurbs” will plummet. Plus offices like the FBI and GAO are not widget factories that can produce their work in isolation, and “infrastructure” is a very valid concern; you can’t just drop a massive federal building with extensive security needs and multiple varied requirements in a field in Peoria and expect to save money, you’ll need to scale things up accordingly.

    NBC or Goldman Sachs could save a ton of money if they moved out of Manhattan (the most expensive real estate market in the country) but they don’t, and there’s very good reasons for it. It’s the center of where they need to be in order to conduct their business successfully. The same applies for DC and government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Moosebreath says:

    @Trumwill Mobile:

    “Just the other day I was actually reading about people who commute from WV to DC”

    Not that surprising. There are part of WV (such as Harper’s Ferry) which are about 20 minutes from Frederick, Maryland. And there are lots of people who commute from Frederick to DC.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Moosebreath says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Actually, all of your examples are places where the county is somewhat larger than the city, and there are some older suburbs in the county where one can commute from into the city. The only place where the city and county are co-extensive is Philadelphia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Trumwill Mobile says:

    @NickTamere: Given the land-use rrestrictions around DC something is going to have to give. It’s not so simple as “People will just have tommove closer to the core” assumes they can.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Andre Kenji says:

    @Trumwill Mobile:

    As for DC, we need to move our capital to Nebraska.

    They did exactly that in Brazil – they built Brasilia in a isolated point of the prairie, it´s Nebraska with a warmer climate. Today, there are 3,7 million living there, the traffic is horrible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. James Joyner says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    How do you disaggregate “impractical” from “don’t wanna”?

    All things being equal, most people would presumably rather have a convenient trek to work. Walking distance would be ideal. But that’s very difficult to manage, indeed, in the DC area for reasons I lay out in the post.

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  28. Trumwill Mobile says:

    @Andre Kenji: Well, I can’t speak to that, but I’d like to think if we were starting from scratch, we’d be able to come up with something that can handle enormousgrowth. IIt’s one of the few cases where I’d support centralized urban planning (laying the groundwork for massive public transportation and limiting low density development).

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  29. Rob in CT says:

    Obviously you wouldn’t move the capitol. You’d move an agency or two.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Rafer Janders says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Actually, all of your examples are places where the county is somewhat larger than the city, and there are some older suburbs in the county where one can commute from into the city.

    The fact that the county is somewhat larger than the city makes my point, it doesn’t contradict it, since I’m contrasting those cities with NYC, where there are five separate counties within the boundaries of one city, so the counties are smaller than the city. New York City counties are much smaller, geographically, than many other counties in the rest of the country, so the fact that people travel from one county to another in NYC doesn’t really indicate anything about the distance of the commute.

    (Cook County, Illinois, which contains Chicago, for example, is 1,634 square miles, while the five counties of NYC cover only 302 square miles total combined).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  31. Rafer Janders says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I hit post before I meant to, so continuing my point above re Chicago v. New York:

    So most Chicago commuters aren’t going to travel from county to country, or even from state to state, while many NYC commuters are. But so what? All that tells us is that Cook County is really frickin’ large, area wise, while NYC counties are pretty small, so county size isn’t a convenient proxy for travel distance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. Moosebreath says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    “The fact that the county is somewhat larger than the city makes my point, it doesn’t contradict it, since I’m contrasting those cities with NYC, where there are five separate counties within the boundaries of one city, so the counties are smaller than the city.”

    But the commutes become less comparable, largely because the same commuting infrastructure is not there. A person living in the equivalent of Schaumberg, IL within the NYC metro area is not within the 5 boroughs. They’d be in Nassau or Westchester counties.

    Maybe you could say a place like Cicero is equivalent to a spot in the outer boroughs of NYC, but much of Cook County outside Chicago is just not the same. It shows the original comparison is silly, but by itself doesn’t do much more.

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  33. Trumwill Mobile says:

    @Rob in CT: Oh, I want to move the whole enchilada. I’llsettle for less, though.

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  34. PD Shaw says:

    @Trumwill Mobile: We will henceforth refer to this plan as the Trumwill stimulus.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. PD Shaw says:

    Regarding the Chicago area what I found interesting was the dynamic between Cook County (containing Chicago) and suburban Dupage County:

    Dupage to Cook, approx 140,000 commuters
    Cook to Dupage, approx 135,000 commuters

    Los Angeles County and Orange County have a very similar dynamic.

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  36. Andre Kenji says:

    @Trumwill Mobile: Brasilia was constructed using urban planning(Oscar Niemeyer, that projected most of the city, was a known communist apologist) – in fact, from the satellite, you can see that´s has the shape of a plane:

    https://maps.google.com.br/maps?q=brasilia&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=-15.784655,-47.883053&spn=0.111502,0.181789&safe=off&hnear=Bras%C3%ADlia+-+Federal+District&gl=br&t=k&z=13

    There are restrictions on building on the city of Brasilia, but the problem is that there is out of control growth in the suburbs. The same thing would happen with a capital city in Nebraska. Besides that, the nice thing about Washington DC is that everyone can go there, the subjects can see and visit their leaders. A capital city in Nebraska would be another story.

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  37. Trumwill Mobile says:

    @Andre Kenji: People would be able to go to Nebraska. It’s be closer for a lot of people. I don’t know a whole lot about Brazil, but my impression is that people are less spread out generally than they are here.

    As far as urban planning, I’d think there would be more than one way to approach it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. Trumwill Mobile says:

    @PD Shaw: I think the government would actually make a profit off it in the long run. But in the short run, it would mean jobs!

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  39. Gromitt Gunn says:

    A 90 minute commute via train, while not ideal, can still be a very productive use of time (for work or for leisure or for catching up on sleep). A two hour *drive*? Ugh. No how, no way. My dad did that for about 10 years and it eventually broke him. He ended up taking a month off from work and we moved a few months later.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  40. PD Shaw says:

    @Andre Kenji: Washington D.C. is just as much an artificial city as Brasilia or Canberra, its just older. And some of the traffic problems of D.C. relate to the artificial design.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. Peter says:

    For a four-week period last fall I drove every weekday from Medford, New York to a worksite in North Haven, Connecticut, a distance of 125 miles* each way. It would take me a bit over two hours in the morning, leaving home at 4:45 am, but in the afternoon three hours was more common. It was tolerable only because I knew it would be for just a short period and because my employer paid very well for travel time.

    * = it actually would be only about 40 miles if it weren’t for Long Island Sound lying in between

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  42. Mikey says:

    @Peter:

    * = it actually would be only about 40 miles if it weren’t for Long Island Sound lying in between

    You obviously needed a hovercraft…but, then, who doesn’t?

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  43. Among my group of co-workers, 50 miles & 90 minutes would be considered moderate at worst. In what seems to be a never-ending competition to find the biggest house in the “safest” community, my co-workers (all men) push the boundary of what is chronologically possible. The present record is 130 miles and 2.5 hours each way. Lesser examples of fortitude have only managed to find their perfect abode at slightly less than 2 hours distance.

    While some may opine that rising fuel prices will result in shorter commutes in gereral, the strategy in my workplace has been to find cheaper housing even further out into the countryside, and then plowing the savings into the gas tank.

    The converse strategy – finding slightly more expensive, less expansive housing in the city, funded by much smaller gas bills – is considered something close to heresey. My half-hour walk to work through vibrant downtown neighborhoods is considered reckless and bizarre. Many wait for me to come to my senses. I hope I never do.

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  44. Mikey says:

    @Worldly Canuck: I wish I could walk, but my 15-minute drive is fine by me.

    So, rather than a big house in the boonies, I live in decent townhouse in a nice community close to work, fill my car (which is much nicer than I’d be able to afford if I lived further out) about every week-and-a-half, and have an hour or two more family time every weekday.

    And another advantage: the extra sleep I get that my far-flung co-workers miss out on because they leave home at 6:00 AM to get to the office by 7:30. I don’t even fall out of bed until they’ve been on the road for 30 minutes.

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  45. Andre Kenji says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Washington D.C. is just as much an artificial city as Brasilia or Canberra, its just older.

    Yes, but Washington is located near to major cities like New York and Philadelphia. Of the ten largest metropolitan areas in Brazil only one, Belo Horizonte, is located less than 500 miles from Brasilia.

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  46. Andre Kenji says:

    @Trumwill Mobile:

    People would be able to go to Nebraska. It’s be closer for a lot of people. I don’t know a whole lot about Brazil, but my impression is that people are less spread out generally than they are here.

    As far as urban planning, I’d think there would be more than one way to approach it?

    1-) In fact, the Brazilian situation presents a problem for many foreign leaders visiting the country. If you want to see the business leaders you have to travel to São Paulo, if you want to talk with major politicians you have to travel to Brasilia. Many foreign leaders have to land in São Paulo to talk with businessmen, than take the plane to go to Brasilia. You can do both travelling to Washington DC.

    2-) To many people, Nebraska is a much distant location than Washington DC. Consider the Northeast Corridor: there is nothing close to that in Brazil.

    3-) Urban planning could solve some issues in the capital cities. But it could not solve the problem of the suburbs. That´s where lies the problem.

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  47. grumpy realist says:

    @Rafer Janders: It’s also difficult to find a short commute in Chicago because the damn city is so sprawled out. If you work in the Loop, you’re golden because there are so many trains that end there. (My commute is 45 minutes and that includes 20 minutes of walking.) Trying to go from, say, Oak Park to Evanston is ghastly–it takes an hour and a half each way, whether you try by car or by rail. (Actually, rail is faster during rush hour because the Purple line turns into an express.)

    I used to regularly commute 75 minutes each way to my job when I lived in Tokyo. Commutes of 2-2.5 hours each way were pretty regular, but it’s very rarely by car. Snoozing in the train is pretty common….

    There definitely is a difference between having to commute by car and having to commute by train. My commute I find to be very relaxing: hop on, get a seat, read the newspaper, and just as I’m finishing it, it’s time to get off and walk to the office.

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  48. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. In fact, a lot of work at the United States Patent and Trademark Office is done by examiners working remotely. The problem is, if your job is one of those that can be done by telecommuting, there’s always the incentive for the boss to outsource your job to a cheaply paid minion in India….

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  49. al-Ameda says:

    Yay! I’m both a mega and a meta commuter.

    I’m in my car for 90 miles and 2h30minutes each day, and then on a ferry for 30 miles and 90 minutes each day too – so, I commute round-tip 120 miles and spend nearly 4 hours in the process. I work from home once every two weeks.

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  50. Tony W says:

    I put on the slippers and commute 23 feet from the bedroom to the office. While that sounds enviable, of course, that means I’m always at work too….

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