Travel distance for employment


Here are a few questions i just want to get out there. and sorry if this has been asked before. Also this is related to daily commute not job site vist or conferences, etc.

1). what is your avg. commute time for work everyday?

2). what distance would you not be willing to travel?

3).what is the longest distance you have had to travel ?

4).when should i bring up( or what distance) traveling in the hiring process?

Jan 11, 13 2:02 pm

Stay with the word commute instead of travel when discussing this issue, for clarity's sake.

Also: what's to "bring up" in the hiring process?  Unless there's some unusual variable at work, what's the issue?  (I.e., how far are you willing to commute on a daily basis to a particular job?)  What part does the potential employer play in this?  I'm just curious...

Jan 11, 13 2:30 pm

@ citizen,

              Honestly, i am just curious about the avg. commute time compared to my own career experience and it has been a while since i had to commute 80min. to get to work and 80 to get home. At this point in my career i was thinking is it something i should bring up if i ever had that commute in front of me again. the shortest commute i had was 10mins

Jan 11, 13 3:12 pm

I see.  So this is really a kind-of general  survey question.

My brother is in the Portland area, and has about a 70-minute commute each way.  He detests it, but is grateful to have found a good job (even that far away) once he was laid off from a similar position.  Desperate times seem to call for desperate commutes.

Good luck in your quest...

Jan 11, 13 3:54 pm
won and done williams

Okay, I'll shoot:

1. 20 minute walk; 5 minute drive

2. Anything over a 45 minute walk; 30 minute bus/train; or 15 minute drive

3. 10 minute drive

4. In the interview process if you anticipate it being an issue.

Jan 11, 13 3:56 pm

fwiw, i'm maybe 20 minutes depending on traffic.  i think what citizen is trying to understand is how a commute becomes a discussion point.  personally, i would not care for 160 minutes of driving time a day.  i think i would be considering a new job or a new residence.

how would bring up the issue of a long commute to an employer?  this probably isn't normal, but i would appreciate if you would post a sort of fictitious conversation between you and a potential or current employer regarding this issue.  for example, do you expect the conversation to go something like:

t: yo boss.  what's up?

b. not much.

t.  my commute is too long.

b.  ok.  we'll move the company a bit closer to your house.

or like this:

t. good afternoon sir.  may i have a minute of your time?

b. ok.

t. my commute is too long.  can i work from home 3 days a week?

b.  yes.  as a matter of fact, we just implemented an IT infrastructure for that.  you will have to use your own computer, but here is an extra autocad license we aren't using.

c. i should be a playwright.  i look forward to your synopsis.  add stage direction if it helps :)

Jan 11, 13 3:56 pm

If you commute more than 20 minutes to work by car, you're literally destroying the economy, causing global food and energy shortages and increasingly the likelihood of irreversible poverty in your community.*

*Exceptions are obviously people who are required to drive for a living or work in remote field sites.

Just keep that in mind.

Jan 11, 13 4:00 pm

Last job, was 32 miles one way. Took a hour unless I rode the motorcycle then like 40/45mins. However when I didn't take bike I carpooled so only had to drive 5 miles to the commuter lot. Then sleep and get dropped off about 3-5 blocks from my job. Slugging if you never heard of it. A DC thing.

Jan 11, 13 4:00 pm

My last job was nearly 2 hours each way (by public transit, thankfully the job was short-lived).  Now I commute about 12 feet to my kitchen table, soon to be upgrading to a proper desk in the living room. I love it so far.

Once upon a time I had a 40 mile commute (each way) that could take anywhere from 45 minutes (on motorcycle) to 2.5 hours, depending on traffic. But the motorcycle was cheap on gas, insanely fast and fun, and much of the road was along the waterfront, so I actually looked forward to that commute a few times a week.

Jan 11, 13 6:19 pm

25min Bart ride each way between Berkeley Ashby station and SF Montgomery - then 20min  walk to and from North Beach(with a stop over at Peet's of course) = 45min each way.

Jan 11, 13 6:31 pm

12 km bike ride (each way). Time varies greatly depending on weather, traffic, and how much I want to push it. Alternatively, it's about 30 minutes by metro (including one transfer and walking to/from the stations). Personally, I wouldn't want to do anything much longer. At least on the bike I can say I spent one hour+ a day getting a little exercise, but that same amount of time  on a train or car would feel like such a waste.

Jan 12, 13 8:19 am

a question relevant to me has to do with WHERE that commute takes you. i think if my commute were reversed, it would feel better to me. i live in a vital urban neighborhood, which i love, but commute to and spend most of my day in an industrial park wasteland 20 minutes OUT of town. i hate my morning drive; soulcrushing. 

Jan 12, 13 11:01 am

To extend Stephen's comment above, it also would depend on the nature of the job which requires the commute. I once drove 45 miles each way for two years to reach a terrific job I really loved. I've had other jobs I would not now walk next door to reach. I would avoid discussing the commute with your potential employer - if you do, it will signal that you really are more focused on you own personal convenience than the job being discussed. If they offer you the job, you don't have to accept the offer if the total package - i.e. responsibility, potential, pay, benefits and commute, etc. - aren't satisfactory to you.

Jan 12, 13 11:27 am


Do you have a citation for that number?  A 19-minute commute keeps us cool and fed, but at 20:01 we all turn hot and hungry?

I understand the general point --shorter car commutes are better in so many ways than long ones-- but the magical 20-minute spike in the floor seems too facile.

Jan 12, 13 11:54 am

Everyone, Thanks for your time & input.

Jan 12, 13 1:06 pm

Yes but nothing publicly available. The determination for optimum commute times and distances if a subject frequently mentioned in JAPA (Journal of the American Planning Association).

The concept of "wasteful commuting" dates all the way back to 1982. And during the 1980s, the number of Americans considered to live in exurban development patterns was sixty-plus million and growing.

Planners, then, were already decrying the ramification this would have on future generations and we making recommendations to switch over to polycentric-planned cities— an ideology that was the foundation of both transit-oriented design and new urbanism.

This gets into the arguments of road widening— in the 1980s, travel distances in the U.S. actually declined; reasoning behind this were perceived increase in congestion, migration of workers and businesses and the after effects of the energy crisis. To "ease" congestion, major arterial roads were widen— this lead to the remove of bottle-necking and by the late 1990s, commute times and lengths had grown significantly.

But the 'fancy pants' term for it is "excess commuting."

Jan 12, 13 1:08 pm

In other terms, think of it in terms of income:

The average American makes about $19.00 an hour. In a 20 minute commute, their time is worth, in terms of wages, $6.30. If they traveled at an average speed of 45 mph for 20 minutes, their mileage was 15 miles. Using the IRS mileage calculator, the trip cost them $8.30. For an average wage earner, the daily impact of their trip is -$4.00.

It's a combination of both diminishing returns and negative returns. Economically, you driving is good for the economy for short trips but that economic gain diminishes the further and or longer you travel. When you hit a certain distance, your economic contribution actually becomes negative.

When you add into this what the government invests into infrastructure and their associated math with trip generation, capacity and factors like injury, there's significant hidden costs to your commutes.

Jan 12, 13 1:22 pm

I get the concept, I was asking about the magical 20-minute threshold.

Jan 12, 13 1:31 pm

Distance is irrelevant.  I live barely 10 miles from the office and it takes me over an hour to get there. 

My old office was 50 miles away and I drove there for a few months until one snowy evening when it took me 5 hours to get home.  Once I started taking the train there, it was about 1.5 hours door-to-door.

Jan 13, 13 11:37 am

My longest commute was between La Jolla and Irvine

I would drive from La Jolla to Oceanside, then hop on MetroLink and ride the train up to Irvine then take an OC Transit Short Bus to near the office I worked at - total time was 90 minutes each way for a 150 mile round trip.

Jan 13, 13 6:05 pm

according to this 2011 post from Economist which cites the Census Bureau, the average American spends over 50 minutes a day commuting

Jan 14, 13 11:11 pm

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