New Census data on commute times suggests not much has changed in the last ten years.

Here's our takeaway from the Census Bureau's latest report on commute times: not much has changed in the past decade.

The percentage of workers with commutes of an hour or more has remained fairly stable from 2000 to 2011, hovering right around 8 percent (8.1 percent of all workers who do not work from home in 2011). The national average commute time hasn't changed much either.

But like most things, the awfulness of your commute depends a lot on where you live. See, for example, this map below of where the "megacommuters," (those 586,805 unlucky Americans who travel at least 50 miles and 90 minutes to work each day) live.

The two tables below highlight the top metro areas for these super-long commutes. Note that the San Francisco metro has both the longest average travel time and average distance.

The Census also breaks out the rate of long commutes by the type of community workers are coming from and headed to. As you might expect, the trip from the suburb to the city had the highest share of workers with a commute of over an hour, followed by those traveling from a city to a suburb. Beyond that, the rate of hour-plus commutes is about the same outside a metro area and within cities, and even smaller from suburb to suburb.

Nearly 80 percent of workers who don't work from home drive to work alone; about 10 percent carpool. Almost a quarter of workers who have a commute of over an hour use public transportation to get to work, compared to just 3.7 percent for those with sub-hour commutes. (Put another way, almost 2.5 million people spend an hour or more getting to work on public transit.)

The report suggests that the use of public transportation may be related to commute time, noting that "the average travel time for public transportation commuters is consistently longer than that of the general working population."

Some great maps on all this commute data have circulated this morning. The Washington Post mapped where people travel to get to work. WNYC created a fantastic map showing average commute times by zip code.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: A lone tourist in Barcelona, one of several global cities that have seen a massive crash in Airbnb bookings.
    Coronavirus

    Can Airbnb Survive Coronavirus?

    The short-term rental market is reeling from the coronavirus-driven tourism collapse. Can the industry’s dominant player stage a comeback after lockdowns lift?

  2. Illustration: two roommates share a couch with a Covid-19 virus.
    Coronavirus

    For Roommates Under Coronavirus Lockdown, There Are a Lot of New Rules

    Renters in apartments and houses share more than just germs with their roommates: Life under coronavirus lockdown means negotiating new social rules.

  3. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

  4. Equity

    The Problem With a Coronavirus Rent Strike

    Because of coronavirus, millions of tenants won’t be able to write rent checks. But calls for a rent holiday often ignore the longer-term economic effects.

  5. Traffic-free Times Square in New York City
    Maps

    Mapping How Cities Are Reclaiming Street Space

    To help get essential workers around, cities are revising traffic patterns, suspending public transit fares, and making more room for bikes and pedestrians.

×