San Francisco Bay Area: Nation’s Capital for ‘Megacommuting’

SFcommutemap
Bay Area residents have longer-than-average commutes. (Screenshot, WNYC)

Are you a “megacommuter”? The symptoms are getting up before dawn for a marathon trip in car or train or bus or vanpool to get to work. Then repeating the process when the day is over and maybe getting home after dark.

In the Bay Area, the megacommuter is not a rare breed. The Census Bureau reports the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metro area has more workers than anywhere else in the country who travel at least 50 miles and 90 minutes (one way) to work.

The Census Bureau says 2.06 percent full-time workers in the region meet its definition for megacommuting. The New York City region is No. 2, with 1.90 percent, and the Washington, D.C., metro area is third, with 1.89.

The bureau says the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont region is also No. 1 for commute distance, again, with just over 2 percent of workers traveling more than 50 miles one way to get to work. In second place, with 1.9 percent of workers traveling at least 50 miles, is the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area.

Looking for the most punishing long distance commute in the region? It would be hard to beat the trip from the San Joaquin Valley (i.e., Central Valley) into the Bay Area. The Census ranks the trip from San Joaquin County, which includes the city of Stockton, to Alameda County as one of the ten busiest megacommute routes in the United States, with an average distance of 61 miles and average trip time of 104 minutes.

The national average commute time is 24.4 minutes, but in San Francisco, workers travel on average about 30 minutes to work.

See how your commute stacks up. This interactive map, created by WNYC, shows commute times across the country by ZIP code. The Census Bureau study also found:

  • 79.7 percent of commuters drive alone, 10.1 percent carpool, 5.3 percent use public transportation and 4.6 percent use other methods.
  • People in the state of New York have the highest rates of long commutes, followed by Maryland and New Jersey.
  • Mega commuters are overwhelmingly male. They are also more likely to be older, married, have a high salary and have a spouse who does not work.

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Author

Rachael Bale

Rachael Bale is researcher for The Center for Investigative Reporting and occasional contributor to KQED News and The California Report. A California native, she has a bachelor's degree in political science from Reed College and a master's degree in journalism from American University.

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