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Remote work and the end of super-commuting

Remote work and the end of super-commuting

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According to the US Census Bureau, even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing remote- and hybrid-work surge, super-commuting was very much on the rise. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of super-commuters in the United States increased by 45%, according to an analysis by Apartment List. In 2019, some 4.6 million Americans commuted for more than 90 minutes each way.

Pre-COVID, the rise in super-commuting was driven by rising housing costs and road congestion. Nearly a third (roughly 1.4 million people) were found near only three over-priced housing markets: New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. And nearly half live within 30 miles of the office; those longer commutes resulted from slower traffic, not further distances.

Many super-commuters, especially in and around New York City, live only 10 miles from their place of work. But it takes so long to get to the office because of slow rush-hour traffic, long waits to switch between buses or subway trains, and other problems that have nothing to do with living far from work.

So what is the effect of post-COVID work arrangements on the super-commuting trend?

We have to speculate because the number of super-commuters is changing quickly right now, and the census data won’t be out for a couple of years.

However, generally, it’s reasonable to assume that remote work reduces super-commuting and hybrid work increases it. In other words, when there’s no commute, there’s no super-commute.

Many of today’s work-from-home (WFH) employees used to be super-commuters.



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