Meet America's Mega-Commuters

In a recent blog post I mentioned the phenomenon of extreme or "mega-commuters" -- the nearly 600,000 U.S. workers who travel at least 90 minutes and 50 miles to work every day, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey

I just ran across this interesting piece breaking down who these hearty (and beleaguered) souls are. In general, these are the characteristics of the workers enduring those really long commutes:

1. Men

2. Middle-aged

3. Middle-income

4. Married (with stay-at-home spouse)

Essentially, we're talking about a 1950's-style dad dealing with the mega-commutes of a modern world in order to maintain that particular throwback lifestyle. Or as the article concluded:

"It's possible that to get reasonably-paying jobs that can support a stay-at-home spouse and decent home, workers now have to travel farther than ever. It's also possible that it's very difficult to handle a 90 minute commute unless you have a stay-at-home or part-time working partner. Whatever the case, a look at America's longest commuters also reveals a sector of American society that looks a lot like a certain version of the past — except for the part where Dad spends three hours of his day on the road and probably can't be home for dinner."

All that driving means dealing with congestion and paying high gasoline prices. It's no wonder then that only a small percentage of American commuters are actually mega-commuters while more and more people are trading traffic-clogged roads altogether and rising prices at the gas pump for public transportation. Indeed, U.S. transit systems recorded 10.5 billion trips last year, the second-highest levelsince 1957. The the lion’s share of that growth was on light-rail systems. 

With riding the rails (and the bus!) back in vogue again, everything old is new again. Perhaps the rebirth of public transportation will be the travel mode share that eventually takes the place of the automobile. The end of the car? Maybe the mega-commuters won't miss it!

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