Long-Distance Commuting Hits a Wall

The time it takes the average American to commute hasn't changed much since 2000, according to the Census Bureau.

The new Census data on commuting in America contains a fair amount of information but little reason to celebrate. The big takeaway is that almost four in five American workers commuted alone by car in 2011. Nationally, only about 5 percent of workers commute via transit.

But amid the lousy news are a few reasons for optimism.

The Census Bureau reports that the average American’s journey to work takes 25.5 minutes each way — very similar to what Americans reported in 2000. Commuting lengths aren’t ballooning quite the way they did in the 1990s, notes Brad Plumer at the Washington Post.

The percentages of Americans doing both long-distance (at least 50 miles each way) and “mega” commutes (at least 50 miles and at least 90 minutes each way) were roughly unchanged since 2000, as well. Both long-distance and mega commuters were concentrated around the country’s largest cities, in metro DC and New York.

Nationally, just more than 8 percent of workers commute more than an hour each way, barely higher than the 8 percent rate in 2000. Transit riders are overrepresented in this group, comprising about 23 percent.

Plumer says stagnating commute lengths could be due to the softening economy. The relative decline of the exurbs could also be helping slow the growth in commute lengths. In addition, experts have long theorized that most commuters lose patience with a commute of more than 30 minutes, so growth from here is likely to be moderate.

The rise in telecommuting might also help explain why long commutes are no longer on the rise. The Census Bureau reports 13.4 million American workers now telecommute at least one day per week. That’s a 34 percent increase over 1997, or an additional 4.2 million people. These workers weren’t counted in the average commuting time. If they had been, it’s possible we would have seen an overall drop in commuting times since 2000.

In addition, the Census Bureau reported 0.6 percent of Americans are biking to work (compared to 0.55 percent in 2009) and 2.8 percent are walking.

  • voltairesmistress

    Here’s another small ray of hope, based on the report’s numbers.  Between 2009 and 2011 bicycle commuting to work rose 9.1% (.05/.55).  When the numbers and percentage of total commute modes are so low (.55% in 2009 and .6% in 2011), it’s easy to think there’s been no significant progress and for observers to consider cycling insignificant.  In a way, that’s true.  But with a 9.1% rise in two years, we are looking at respectable growth, albeit invisible to casual observers.

    It would be interesting to know what the changes were, if any, in percentages of people walking to work.  I think that’s unlikely to change, however, since most people don’t want to walk more than half a mile or a mile at a stretch, particularly in work clothes.  Few cities afford that short a distance between work and home.

  • 晓荔 陈

    xxCXL-???????????? ?????? ??? ???????????????????????????????????1???? ?????? ??? ?????????????????????????????? ?? 2013?????????????????????????? ?? ?????? ?? ????????????????????????????????

    If not so anxious that most people would choose foreign purchasing Louis Vuitton Bags.Put aside the different countries and regions of different shopping preferences,Louis Vuitton UK buy Cheap Louis Vuitton hand-selected to not much difference,coupled with the big emphasis on the Chinese market,a lot of style is already the world simultaneous release,so the price is only one factor argumentative.Yes ah,regardless of money or not,who would not want to save money too?Especially the hundreds of thousands,to the less louis vuitton outlet there are thousands of big luxury.

    louis vuitton outlet 2013 spring quarter Men bags series,fluorescent colors,traditional innovation,louis vuitton sale bags for men inject new vitality.Since the designer Kim Jones added to the luxury brand cheap louis vuitton later,such as louis vuitton outlet online the French veteran hit booster as being a brand new look,young fashion taste can be described as more and more intense.

    Cheap Louis Vuitton luggage advanced customization services,Louis Vuitton Handbags section where a custom color Haute,is a senior in Louis Vuitton UK means,and the most common in the fashion circle is Haute couture-haute couture.By the designer and fashion boutiques in Paris,louis vuitton outlet must be members of the Association accreditation,an association recognized by the designers just enjoy “haute couture designer” of the title,its haute couture fashion works in order to use the title,and is protected by law.

    louis vuitton sale 2013 summer series handbags extraordinarily colorful and romantic extraordinary in louis vuitton outlet store,sweet peach pink,temperament dark blue as the main colors,combined with artistic temperament canvas texture printing,filling the art.In addition to flowers outside printing,more classic louis vuitton outlet Logo embossed Logo embossed or similar color as a decoration,cheap louis vuitton filling the big luxury noble gas.

    ???????? 2013???????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????4??????????? ???????????? ????? ????????? ?????????????????

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Low-Income Americans Walk and Bike to Work the Most

|
The U.S. Census Bureau just released its first-ever report exclusively on walking and biking [PDF]. Using data from the American Community Survey, the report shows how rates of active transportation vary by age, income, education, race, and the availability of a vehicle. It’s a lot more detail than the usual Census data release on how people get […]

Census: American Bike Commuting Up Nine Percent in 2012

|
Congratulations, America. We’re biking to work more than ever before. We’ve known for a while that Americans are driving less than they used to, even as the economy grows. And just about every quarter, the American Public Transportation Association delivers more stats about increasing transit ridership. Now the Census brings another measure of Americans’ shifting transportation […]

Introducing the Sprawl Tax

|
Crossposted from City Observatory.  If you read the news, you’ve probably seen reports about “congestion costs”: how much American commuters pay, in money and time, when they’re stuck in traffic. It’s fair to say that we’ve got some issues with many of these reports—but they’re popular nonetheless, perhaps because they help quantify a frustration that […]