One-fourth of commuters use their down time during their daily commute to be productive, from conducting conference calls to checking emails.
Gridlocked commuters have a new reason to, in the words of the James Taylor song, “damn this traffic jam.”
A new Citi study finds that Americans are spending an average of $12 daily—approximately $2,600 and 200 hours annually—to get to work and home again. The average American spends 45 minutes on their daily roundtrip commute, Citi reports.
Six-in-ten Americans report that their commuting costs have increased over the last five years.
New Yorkers need to add about a half hour more time to their commute (73 minutes). Luxury, Los Angeles commuters might wistfully think as they quarter-inch along the 405. Chicagoans, too, spend more than an hour (64 minutes) on their daily commute, while San Franciscans spend 56 minutes. Miami had the shortest commute among cities polled with an average commute time of 49 minutes, the survey found.
Los Angeles commuters are paying the highest daily roundtrip cost ($16), while Chicago and San Francisco are paying the lowest ($11).
Automobile is the vehicle of choice—or necessity—for most Americans. The bulk of their transportation budget (79 percent) goes toward gas. The current average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.80, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. That’s up from $2.76 a week ago, but down from $3.67 the same period last year.
While roughly half of consumers do not ride a bicycle to work, they would if there was a bike option available in their area, the study reports.
Resourceful commuters aren’t just seething in their cars as they navigate the nation’s clogged arteries. Three-fourths use the time to chill by listening to music (64 percent), having a snack or drink (40 percent), taking a different, more scenic route (33 percent) and traveling with friends (30 percent).
One-fourth of study respondents use the time to be productive, whether taking conference calls or catching up on their emails. A majority said that commuting is the only time they will have to themselves during the workday. New Yorkers were twice as likely as the national average (37 percent vs. 12 percent) to prepare for meetings. Los Angeles commuters maximize their commute productivity by doing errands (37 percent, compared to the national average of 23 percent).
For those who carpool to and from work, the biggest pet peeve is a fellow traveler identified as a “germ spreader,” who is sick, followed by “the Talker.” Coping strategies are, of course, limited, but a majority have tried switching seats (65 percent) or distracting themselves with music or a phone conversation (50 percent).
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.