Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Extreme Commuting

CBS Sunday Morning had a story a couple weeks ago about The Ever-Growing American Commute. The subtitle is "People Are Living Farther From Cities And Enduring Longer Commutes So They Can Have Large Homes". Much of the background data for the story comes from Commuting in America III from TRB. While one can buy the whole report for $60, there are important (free) data available in the summaries. The most interesting thing I learned is that the commuting patterns are not just from the suburbs to the central city, but from a suburb of one central city to a suburb of another central city. The implications of this is that carpooling and mass transit are almost never available options in these situations; thus, individual - no passenger - use is on the rise in many areas. Yet, there is this countervailing trend:
"Although immigrants make up less than 14 percent of all workers, they represent about 40 percent of those in large carpools. The percentage is particularly high among Hispanic immigrants, who are largely responsible for the recent growth in carpooling after 30 years of decline. Recent immigrants also are more likely to walk or bike to work, or to use public transportation."

NYS specific data:
*The key is that the New York metropolitan area with 2.2 million households without vehicles, more than the entire West region of the nation and equal to the Midwest, totally distorts the Northeast picture. New York has about 20% of the nation’s vehicle-less households and the rest of the Northeast the other 14%. Without New York the Northeast shares, with more like 7% of households without vehicles, look very much like or are even lower than the other regions of the country.
*Driving Alone continues to increase. Private vehicle shares were over 80% for 14 states with Michigan highest at over 83%. There were 33 states between 70% and 80%. New York is in a class by itself at 56%.
*The New York metropolitan area obtained a 38% share of national commuting on transit, up from 37% in 1990.
*Only New York State had more than 10% of workers traveling over 60 minutes in 1990, but New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois joined the group in 2000 – and California came close. Extreme commutes (those more than 90 minutes) were typical in the same set of states.
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EDIT: In case you're having trouble reading the link to the great New Yorker article Darrin referenced, go here.

1 comment:

Darrin Conroy said...

Here's another interesting article (from a recent article in the New Yorker) on the ever-expanding commute of the American worker:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/04/16/070416fa_fact_paumgarten?printable=true