October 23, 2006
By STEVE GRANT, Courant Staff Writer
It just gets worse.
The latest national survey of commuting patterns shows that drivers are traveling longer distances to work and, of course, taking more time to get there. Some people are leaving for work at ridiculously early hours to dodge traffic jams.
Example: According to Commuting in America III, the latest of three decadal reviews of commuting patterns, the number of workers with commutes lasting more than 60 minutes grew by almost 50 percent between 1990 and 2000.
Every year, the commutes get a little longer.
In Connecticut, the state Department of Transportation says the average commute for a Connecticut worker increased from 21.1 minutes in 1991 to 24.8 minutes in 2005. Nationally, the DOT said, the average for 2005 was 25.1 minutes.
"Generally in Connecticut we show travel times are getting longer, but not dramatically," said Paul A. Buckley, transportation supervising planner at the DOT. "We are a small state. We don't have the commuting distances like California."
Still, in Fairfield County, where the grumbling about traffic congestion is becoming more of a dull roar, the average daily commute is a more painful 28.5 minutes, up from 28.1 minutes in 2004. In Hartford County, the average is 22.1 minutes, up from 20.7 minutes.
The national report, published by the Transportation Research Board, a division of the National Research Council, a private, nonprofit institution under congressional charter, identified a series of broad trends, but did not break statistics down by state or metropolitan area.
In that report, author Alan Pisarski said the increasing number of people who work from home could significantly affect commuting in the future. Pisarski said 4 million Americans now work from home, more than the number who walk to work, and that workers over age 55 are especially likely to telecommute.
Compared with previous decades, more Americans now leave for work between 5 and 6:30 a.m. than ever before, the federal report concluded.
Another trend is that increasing numbers of people are commuting from one suburb to another, rather than the more traditional commute from suburb to central city.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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