Mega Commuters in the U.S.: Time and Distance in Defining the Long Commute using the American Community Survey

Extreme commuting has been increasing since at least 1990. Extreme commuters are defined as workers who travel 90 minutes or more to work, one-way - a definition based on time (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005). Additionally, this research defines long-distance commuters as workers who travel 50 miles or more to work, one-way. And mega commuters as those who combine these two definitions and travel 90 minutes or more and 50 miles or more to work, one-way. This analysis evaluates the national, county-level, and metropolitan area patterns of “mega” commuting, examining time and distance, first, independently, and then jointly. Commutes are analyzed determining the county-to-county flow pairs with the highest average distance and time; noting counties with the highest distance traveled, and extremes in inflow and outflow. The mega commutes are mapped by counties and metropolitan areas and examined in relationship to travel mode choice, in the presence of demographic characteristics such as, age, marital status, presence of children, wages, gender, and occupation. Additionally, using the study area of Washington, D.C., mega commuters are compared to other commuters and their national counterparts. Washingtonian commuters report some of the longest commute times in the U.S. and have a variety of transportation modes from which to choose. These results will better inform how to define these commutes with respect to both time and distance.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 13p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01526960
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: Working Paper 2013-03
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 27 2014 4:36PM