August 31, 2006 in Nation/World

Data shows shorter commutes

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 

WASHINGTON – It might be hard for some drivers to believe, but average commuting times are getting shorter for U.S. workers.

The average daily commute to work has shrunk from 25.5 minutes in 2000 to 25.1 minutes last year, according to data released this week by the Census Bureau.

“We all should hold a celebration,” said Alan Pisarski, author of “Commuting in America.” “We’re saving 0.4 minutes!”

That’s 0.4 minutes each way, for a total of 48 seconds a day.

But not everyone’s buying it.

“Even with these numbers, we swear up and down that we are spending more time in our cars,” said John B. Townsend II, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Washington.

“We are spending at least an hour a day in our cars in the Washington area,” Townsend said.

The numbers are surprising because many of the nation’s fastest-growing communities are in the outer suburbs, miles from central cities. The shorter commuting times could be a sign that jobs are following the workers, Pisarski said.

For example, the nation’s longest commute, at 39.6 minutes, is in the Vineland, N.J., metropolitan area, about 40 miles south of Philadelphia. Vineland, a community of 56,000 people in southern New Jersey, was part of the Philadelphia metropolitan area in 2000. It became its own metropolitan area because fewer workers are commuting into Philadelphia.

The New York area had the second-longest commute, at 34.2 minutes, and the Washington area was third at 33.4 minutes. The Los Angeles area, which is notorious for its traffic, came in 16th, at 28.4 minutes.


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