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March 24th, 2008

commuting distance

I had a friend who whenever he switched jobs, he usually switched residence, too, because he wanted a five-ten minutes commute. That sort of blew me away, but the last move I made while working had a hard constraint of being walking distance (3 miles or less) to work AND on public transit that required no transfer to go to work.

I knew that Amsterdam had a huge percentage of trips on foot or bicycle. Check out the median commute in Canada:

http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Edmonton/2008/03/04/4903926.html

Use of public transport is up slightly.

"The median commuting distance in 2006 was 7.8 kilometres. Five years ago, the median distance was 7.6. The term median distance is defined by Statistics Canada as the point where one half of the region’s population travels more than that distance and the other half travels less. Commuting distance is measured on a straight line from home to work — not the actual route travelled, which for most commuters would be longer."

This sounds really short compared to the US, but I'm still looking for comparable data. This is from 2004:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-11-29-commute_x.htm

It gives times, rather than miles for the most part.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Traffic/story?id=485098

This gives about the same commute distance in time and adds a mileage number: 16 on average, which you cannot diretly compare to the Canadian number which is median, and further is probably odometer miles (altho it is not specified) rather than crow-flies.

I found a variety of data (some in JSTOR, some in google books) that suggests the following: if you have a long commute, the next time you move, you'll probably move closer (which suggests that opting for distant suburbs is something that is, over the long haul and independent of fuel costs, something that people don't much care for), and you're more likely to switch jobs to one that is closer. People who have lower income and use public transportation have commutes of similar time-distance as people with higher income and cars, but only travel about 2/3rds as far (so as we price people out of being able to afford to commute by car, they will move closer in once they have to come up with other options). None of this is particularly surprising.

Here's a little bit about public transportation:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080310/us_nm/gasoline_mass_transit_dc

We hit a 50 year high in use of public transit last year.