Growing number of people become ‘super-commuters’

WASHINGTON – A growing number of people are traveling really long distances to work.

Researchers call them “super-commuters.” Many of them travel hundreds of miles from their homes to work. They take a combination of cars, planes, trains and buses to get from home to the office.

New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation reports from 2002 to 2009 the number of super-commuters grew in eight of the 10 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. They grew in the Philadelphia area by more than 50 percent during that period.

The growth of super-commuters has occurred not just on the East Coast, but in cities such as Seattle and Houston, which had the greatest increase. The typical super-commuter is under 29 and more likely to be in the middle class.

The super-commuter is defined as someone who works in the central county of a given metropolitan area, but lives beyond the boundaries of that metropolitan area.

The use of computers, mobile phones and videoconferencing has contributed to the trend.

“Simply put, the workplace is no longer fixed in one location, but rather where the worker is situated,” the Rudin Center report says.

“Super-commuters are well-positioned to take advantage of higher salaries in one region and lower housing costs in another,” the report says.

Many super-commuters are willing to take a plane to get to work or drive long distances because they can’t sell homes that have lost value and move. They often travel to another city on Monday, then return to their homes and families at the end of the work week.

A worker who lost his job in Austin, Texas tells Bloomberg that he makes a 170-mile drive on Monday, leaving at 3:30 a.m., so he can get to his job in Houston. He stays in an apartment in Houston during the week, then gets home Friday night, returning to his wife and two young children.

Are you a super-commuter? Tell WTOP about your commute. Where does it start and end? How are you splitting your time between the two areas? What factors went into your super-commuting decision? How are you balancing work and family? What are the pros and cons of super-commuting? Post a comment in this story, comment on WTOP’s Facebook Page or use #WTOPcommute on Twitter.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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