Fresno long on short commutes

In the blogpost “‘Mega-commuting’: taking driving to new lengths,” provided is a brief but accurate description of what a ‘mega-commuter’ is.

I wrote: “The term applies to anyone who commutes 50 or more one-way miles to work from home and spends 90 or more minutes in traveling between the two. It’s ‘a new Census demographic that defines the worst of the worst commutes,’ wrote Mike Rosenberg in ‘Bay Area tops new ‘mega-commuter’ Census list defining the worst trips to work.’”

Also introduced in the same post was what the leading causes of ‘mega-commuting’ are; at least in the San Francisco Bay Area region, anyway.

In this regard I wrote: “‘Experts say that it’s understandable that the Bay Area would lead the pack in the new category: High housing prices in urban centers, freeway expansions to outer suburbs and rural areas, and bumper-to-bumper traffic all make the area a hot spot for commutes that are long for both distance and time – not to mention a giant bay that naturally spreads out the region,’ Rosenberg insisted.”

That, in a nutshell, is ‘mega-commuting.’ And where are the most notorious ‘mega-commuter’ areas?

As covered in the same blogpost, the San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Clara, New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, followed by the Washington, D.C. and Arlington and Alexandria (in northern Virginia) areas. Six-hundred thousand nationwide fall into the ‘mega-commuter’ category.

If the above are some of the nation’s top ‘mega-commuting’ trouble spots, Fresno, in California’s San Joaquin Valley is one of the country’s hotspots for short commutes.

The Fresno Bee columnist Kurtis Alexander in “At last, a positive report for Fresno: Short commutes,” wrote: “Fresno has the shortest average commute time of [California’s] 10 largest metro areas, a mere 21.7 minutes, according to census data.”

I can attest.

When I worked in town, I used to drive the eight or so one-way-to-work miles weekdays in roughly 20 minutes’ time – about three-fifths of that freeway driving; the remainder taking place on secondary roads. I live in the suburbs and my place of employ was located cater-corner to Fresno’s downtown Amtrak station. This compares to my six-mile, 5-day-a-week, 30-minute morning and 45-minute afternoon Bay Area commute between Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

At any rate, Alexander went on to state, “As for the mega-commute, just 1.2 percent of people working in the Fresno area experience the 90-minute, 50-mile trudge, compared to nearly four times that in the San Francisco metro area, according to working papers released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.”

If 1.2 percent of commuters are ‘mega-commuting’, the remainder or 98.8 percent are not. By contrast, worker percentage-wise, the San Francisco and San Jose (in the South Bay Area) metro regions see the greatest percentage of ‘mega-commuting’ in state by employees.

“The 10.1% of residents who travel more than 60 minutes to work ranks the state sixth in the nation for the most hour-long commutes. In New York, which tops the list, 16.2% of residents travel at least an hour to their job,” Alexander pointed out.

Finally, Alexander explained, “Fresno’s short commute has the downside of being heavily auto-oriented, which means, for example, more air pollution and problems for people who can’t afford cars.”

According to what Alexander wrote, slightly more than three-in-four Fresno workers are car commuting alone and less than one-and-a-third percent commute via public transportation, which means, 98.7 percent are not taking advantage of the public transit that’s available.

The national average of public transit usage from what I understand is two percent.

– Alan Kandel