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. Life

    Who’s Really Buying Property in San Francisco?

    A lot of software developers, according to an unprecedented new analysis.

  2. Environment

    No, Puerto Rico’s New Climate-Change Law Is Not a ‘Green New Deal’

    Puerto Rico just adopted legislation that commits it to generating all its power from renewable sources. Here’s what separates that from what’s going on in D.C.

  3. A toddler breathes from a nebulizer while sitting in a crib.
    Environment

    How Scientists Discovered What Dirty Air Does to Kids’ Health

    The landmark Children’s Health Study tracked thousands of children in California over many years—and transformed our understanding of air pollution’s harms.

  4. a photo of a beach in Hawaii
    Transportation

    Could Hawaii Be Paradise For Hydrogen-Powered Public Transit?

    As prices drop for renewable power, some researchers hope the island state could be the ideal testbed for hydrogen fuel cells in public transportation.

  5. A large crowd packs Independence Mall, with Philadelphia buildings in the background.
    Environment

    What Happened to Earth Day?

    In the beginning, it was a policy-shaking event that awakened a new generation of activists. But now even environmentalists have misgivings about it.