US Commuting Travel Times Down
Over Quarter Century:
USDOT Cites Urban Sprawl and
Increased Automobile Use as Causes

According to the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (US Department of Transportation), average commuting (work trip) travel time dropped nearly more than five percent from 1969 to 1995. At the same time, average commuting distance increased 17 percent, while overall commuting travel speed increased by a quarter.

In characterizing the 1983 to 1990 trend, a US Department of Transportation report noted:

    (this is)... might be partially due to the fact that a greater number of suburban and exurban residential areas and employment centers were developed. The resulting commutes are longer but are traveled at faster speeds. The decline in travel time is also influenced by changes in commuting modes, with the decrease in transit and carpooling and an increase in driving alone.(1)

Average Commuting Distance, Time & Speed: United States: 1969-1995

Factor 1969 1977 1983 1990 1995 Change from 1969
Distance 9.9 9.2 9.9 10.6 11.6 17.2%
Time 22.0 20.4 20.4 19.7 20.7 -5.9%
Speed 27.0 27.1 29.1 32.3 33.6 24.5%
Source: Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (US Department of Transportation)

    1. United States Department of Transportation, 1990 NPTS: Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey: Summary of Travel Trends (1992), page 24.

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