Tuesday, March 23, 2021

One-Way Commute to Work Hit a Record High in 2019

The time it takes Americans to commute to work hit a record high in 2019, just before start of the coronavirus pandemic. The average one-way commute climbed to 27.6 minutes, up from 25.0 minutes in 2006. Since 2006, commuting time has increased in every year except 2009. Lest you think the pandemic is going to burst this bubble because so many are working from home, the data on commuting time is collected only from workers who do not work from home. 

Only 12 percent of workers report a one-way commute time of less than 10 minutes, down from 15 percent who said so in 2006. Another 10 percent of workers say their commute time is 60 minutes or more, up from 8 percent in 2006. 

The longest one-way commute is experienced by those who ride a long-distance train, commuter rail, or ferry—71.2 minutes. The shortest commute is for those who walk. Here are one-way commute times in 2019 by mode of transportation...

71.2 minutes: long-distance train, commuter rail, or ferry
48.8 minutes: subway or elevated rail
46.6 minutes: bus
27.6 minutes: average time
26.4 minutes: drove alone
21.2 minutes: bicycle
12.6 minutes: walk

Since 2006, the average length of the one-way commute has increased for workers in every type of geography—central cities, suburbs, and nonmetro areas. Commutes are shortest for those who live in the principal cities of micropolitan areas (18.3 minutes). Commutes are longest for those who live in the suburbs of metropolitan areas (29.1 minutes).

Among metropolitan areas with populations of 1 million or more, the share of workers whose commute is 60 minutes or more is greatest in the New York metro area (23 percent). The share of workers whose commute is less than 10 minutes is highest in Rochester, NY (15 percent). 

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