Americans Commute More than they Vacation
The Census Bureau reports that the average American spends more time commuting to and from work than on vacation each year.
Commuting time is going up, and so is the number of people who travel 90 minutes or more each way. The average one-way commute took 24.3 minutes in 2003, two minutes more than it did in 1990, according to a Census Bureau survey released Wednesday. That adds up to more than 100 hours each year, exceeding the average two weeks of vacation workers have annually. Nationally, only 2 percent of workers log 90-minute one-way commuting times, but their numbers are growing, according to the survey.
New York City and Baltimore, Maryland, have the greatest proportion of long-distance (or “extreme”) commuters — 5.6 percent of their commuters spent 90 minutes or more getting to work. Riverside, California, is third at 5 percent, and Los Angeles, California, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, round out the top 5 with 3 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.
On average, workers in New York City spent the longest time traveling to work: 38 minutes, some nine minutes longer than their counterparts in Los Angeles. Commuters in Chicago, Illinois, were second at 33 minutes. The Census Bureau says the shortest commutes — 17 minutes or less — were in Corpus Christi, Texas; Wichita, Kansas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Nationally, less than 5 percent of commuters took public transportation. When they did, it often took a few minutes longer to get to work than for those who drove, the survey showed.
Interesting, if unsurprising. My one-way commute ranges from 40 to 90 minutes, depending on the vagaries of traffic, usually falling in the 45-60 minute range. Taking public transportation would at triple the commute, in that I would have to go out of my way to park in a commuter lot, take a bus to the subway station, ride the subway to the stop nearest the office, and then either walk or take a cab the five miles to my office.
The news people in Tulsa are giddy. Of course, they do live in Tulsa, so they need something to get excited about. I spent nearly a year in Oklahoma doing my initial entry training as an Army field artillery officer and noted at the time that every song that mentioned Oklahoma did so in the context of getting out of that state.
The folks in Newark are much less excited. Not only do they have a long commute but they wind up in Newark at both ends.