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10 longest commutes in the U.S.

Census data reveal that Maryland drivers spend the most time traveling to work.

By Claire_Martin Nov 5, 2012 7:24AM

Maryland Traffic photo by Andrew BossiA new survey shows that American commutes are long and lonely. On average, commuters log 25.5 minutes getting to work each day, and three-quarters of commuters drive alone, according to the 2009-2011 American Community Survey, a program run by the US Census Bureau. 


Maryland drivers have it the worst, logging 32.2 minutes in transit, with New Yorkers trailing close behind at 31.5 minutes. New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, California, Georgia and New Hampshire round out the 10 longest commutes.


In the minority are car poolers, at 10 percent of commuters, and those relying on public transportation, 5 percent.


The reason so many drive solo? Free parking. "If you can park free at work, it's an invitation to drive to work alone. And almost everybody who does drive to work has this invitation," Donald Shoup, a UCLA professor of urban planning, told California Watch, an independent group of investigative reporters.


A recent study by the European GPS manufacturer TomTom, which ranked the top metro areas in North America with the worst traffic, put Los Angeles at the top of the list, not surprisingly. Houston, San Francisco and Minneapolis were singled out for having burgeoning gridlock problems.


A possible solution to our collective commuting woes could lie in legislation that was passed two decades ago in California. In 1992, a law requiring companies to offer employees the option of receiving cash instead of free parking was passed. Shoup, who conducted a study of this "cash-out program," found that when it was used, it resulted in a 17 percent drop in solo driving, a 50 percent boost in public-transportation usage, a 33 percent rise in walking and biking and a 64 percent increase in car pooling. 


And yet, few people take advantage of the program. If they did, Shoup says, it would be a game-changer: "It would really turn things upside down. Parking, which used to be free, now has an opportunity cost. They could get cash, so now you think, 'Well, gee, maybe I should think about transit.'"


[Sources: California Watch, U.S. Census Bureau]

70Comments
Nov 5, 2012 11:45AM
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I for one enjoy my "alone" time in the car. I have to spend 8+ hours at work each day around other people. The daily commute is the only time I have to myself between home & work. My 137 mile round trip daily, allows me to listen to a lot of great audio books and sports radio. Public transportation is not appealing; stinky seats, smelly people, pushing, shoving, delays; like living in an ant colony.

Nov 5, 2012 11:34AM
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Evidentally the Census morons haven't sampled a Seattle commute lately.
Nov 5, 2012 11:53AM
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My wife commuted to work 74 miles round trip to work everyday for nearly 5 years in the metro Puget Sound area of Washington state.  She says it took her 6 months to fully recover from the long hours on the road.  She tried everything to find a carpool or transit connection to save wear and tear on the car and herself but did not happen.  Even tried to change her work hours but could not get that done.  If there was an accident it was usually another hour before she arrived at work or got home.  After the last 6.9 earthquake it took her 5 hours to get home from south of Seattle.
Taking Transit would have added 2 hours to the commute, making it over 4 hours to and from work.  She remained in the job because of the pay and the good group she worked with.  She is glad the job ended when it did.
On a side note my wife's cousin had to retire early because of the stress of her commute.  It had caused he to have mini strokes which would have led to a major stroke if she had not
left the grueling commute and stressful job.  She is now doing pretty well.

Nov 5, 2012 12:04PM
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They forgot Alaska....again.

Believe it or not, Alaska IS a part of the United States. In fact, it's the 49th state in the Union.

Nov 5, 2012 8:46AM
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I for one would welcome the opportunity to car pool just to save money on fuel and upkeep on my car.  Unfortunately, there are not many who make the same commute as I since I am traveling out of the city whilst most everyone else is traveling in.
Nov 5, 2012 11:15AM
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If atlanta had a viable public tranportation sysem i would consider but the buses and trains do ot come close to where i work....
Nov 5, 2012 10:47AM
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I gave up, & now take public trans, & bicycle to the station.  It's expensive, but I'm reading 150 books per year, about 15% of them non-fiction.
Nov 5, 2012 12:01PM
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6 miles from home to work. Go home for a hour nap at lunch.

Minneapolis even when it snows, I am never late.

Nov 5, 2012 11:18AM
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It takes me 90 minutes to get TO work every day and if and accident occurs...add another 45 minutes.

so i spend anwhee from 3 hours to 5 hours on the road each day... round trip..

Nov 5, 2012 11:01AM
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psh this is nothing compared to the commute I make everyday from Palmer to Anchorage, Alaska EVERYDAY. its a 45 mile drive and in the winter you can get stuck on the ONLY highway to and from for HOURS.
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