Commute time: All workers should have reasonable commutes.

Insights & Analyses

  • The average commute time for all workers has increased from 22 minutes in 1990 to 27 in 2019. While Black workers had the longest commute time on average in 1990 at 25 minutes, Asian or Pacific Islander workers now have the longest average commute time at 30 minutes.
  • Workers in North Eastern states like Maryland and New York have the longest commute times while workers in central states like South Dakota and North Dakota have the shortest commute times.
  • Native American workers have the shortest commute time on average out of all ethnic and racial groups for all modes of transportation except public transportation, for which White workers have the shortest commute time.
  • While Asian or Pacific Islander workers have the average longest commute time overall, Black workers who commute by public transportation have the longest commute time out of all ethnic and racial groups.

Drivers of Inequity

People of color face longer commute times than White people because of the country’s long history of racial segregation. The expropriation of land from Indigenous people along with racially discriminatory practices such as redlining and racially restrictive housing covenants have led to the economic dispossession and exclusion of communities of color. These practices also made communities of color more vulnerable to displacement due to gentrification. As urban housing prices skyrocket, people of color are increasingly pushed out of urban areas and away from their employers. As most cities in the United States lack quality public transportation, people of color increasingly face longer commute times.


Grow an equitable economy: Policies to reduce commute times

Strategy in Action

Clayton County joins Atlanta’s regional transit system. Largely due to the advocacy of a broad community coalition, in 2014, voters in Clayton County, Georgia, located outside of Atlanta passed a one-cent sales tax to join the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) and reestablish public transit services. The county had cut its three bus lines in 2010 amidst a budget crisis, stranding many residents — especially those without cars — from the jobs, businesses, and services in neighboring DeKalb and Fulton Counties. The sales tax revenue has funded 13 bus lines, connecting Clayton County to the rest of the region. Since Clayton County joined MARTA, annual ridership has increased between 12 and 17 percent. In 2018, MARTA’s board approved 10 additional bus lines and a new commuter rail line in the county. These additional routes are designed to connect areas of forecasted population and employment growth. Read more.

Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd on Flickr

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