It was a startling headline at the Deseret News (SLC Utah) website. But I checked the math - it's correct.
In 2014, the average American spent 26 minutes commuting each way, to and from work. (And there are around 139 million workers.)
That compares with an average commute time of 21.7 minutes, back in 1980, and is trending upward.
Approximately 1/4 of American workers commute less than 14 minutes one way. But the number of Americans with "really, really long commutes" (defined as 45 minutes or more, each way) has gone up significantly since records started being kept (1980).
Observer Christopher Ingram: "Imagine spending the entire month of August — 24 hours of every day — stuck in your car or riding the bus. That's what it's like for 3.6 million American workers." (Wow!!)
The experts say the morning commute is the worst, psychology-wise. It can mess you up. (It's slightly more pleasant if you're commuting with somebody else. Maybe company helps. Maybe if you're sharing misery, it doesn't seem quite so bad. Maybe you're less likely to slowly slip into insanity, if you're not alone.)
For me, after 30 years of bicycle transportation, my in-town behind-the-wheel time is just about my least-favorite time!! I get totally stressed, sitting in traffic with the motor running! I can't imagine spending an hour or more doing that, five days a week, fifty weeks a year!
This statement seems odd to me:
"Less time commuting might be put to work in other ways, though no one seems quite sure how to make commutes shorter."
Well, Duh!! If you live closer to where you work... your commute will be shorter.
People choose to live farther from work for various reasons.
Perhaps the neighborhoods near the workplace are unsavory, or too expensive. Or maybe they have such a charming residential situation, they can't bear the thought of living someplace else, no matter the downside.
Now and then, we will go for a drive in the country and see a lovely charming rural house for sale. You know, surrounded by big weeping willows and a creek or pond. Acres for playing. I can totally understand the appeal. But... will I want to get up an hour earlier 5 days a week, and spend 45 minutes sitting in traffic, to get to work? And get home an hour after quitting time? The prospect isn't pleasant! But it MUST be considered!
Here's an example of some flawed logic.
A good friend's brother was moving to the area - he had gotten a job in Boise. He looked around at rental properties in Boise, and ended up renting a house in Nampa. His explanation: "It's so expensive in Boise! I was able to get a place in Nampa for $40 per month less!" So - he was going to spend an hour or more extra per day commuting... and buy probably 2 extra gallons of gas... in order to save $40 per month on rent. Sheesh!
But I digress.
I usually leave home on the bicycle at 7:40am, in order to be sitting at my desk at 8am. If I drove the car, it might take 5 minutes less if I could find a parking spot immediately. But 5 minutes of parking-spot search would even things out. (And... I'm as far from work right now as I've ever been. For a couple glorious years I lived across the parking lot from my job... I was renting a house that belonged to my employer.)