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New York, Maryland workers top survey of long commutes

March 05, 2013|By Alana Semuels
  • A commuter walks past a subway stop near Madison Square Park in New York in January.
A commuter walks past a subway stop near Madison Square Park in New York in… (Andrew Gombert / EPA )

For workers on the East Coast, it might finally be time to invest in that jet pack. It's either that or spend an hour or more getting to work, as new data show many commuters in New York, Maryland and New Jersey do every day.

Although just 8.1% of U.S. workers take 60 minutes or longer to get to work, a whopping 16.2% of people who live in New York state commute for an hour or longer each day -- one way. In Maryland, 14.8% of workers take an hour or more to get to work, and 14.6% of workers in New Jersey take that long, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Only about one in 10 workers in California spend an hour or more each day getting to work.

California did have one distinction: The Bay Area was the metro area with the highest average travel time.

For all the environmental benefits of using public transit, the census study revealed one thing Angelenos already know: It takes longer if you don't drive your car.

"The average travel time for workers who commute by public transportation is higher than that of workers who use other modes," said Brian McKenzie, a census bureau statistician.

Interestingly, the housing boom and bust is evident in the commuting numbers. From 2006-07, the average one-way travel time for U.S. workers ticked up, as people bought houses in new-home communities in exurbs including those in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Then, in 2009, as people lost these homes or moved closer to the city, the average one-way travel time fell again. It's beginning to climb back up.

The majority of Americans spend 25 minutes or fewer commuting to work. Nearly 80% of them drive alone, 10% carpool and 5% ride public transit. Nearly 5% get to work by other means, including walking, bicycling, and who knows, maybe even jet pack.


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