Do Commuters Have Souls?
Illustration from The New Yorker.

Illustration from The New Yorker.

This week’s edition of the New Yorker includes a splendid piece on The Soul of the Commuter. Why, the article asks, do American’s subject themselves to painstakingly long commutes, even when these commutes aren’t in their best interest? “People may endure miserable commutes out of an inability to weigh their general well-being against quantifiable material gains.”

For those of you whose commute is too short to read the entire article, here are some of its highlights:

  • For its fiftieth anniversary, Midas gave an award to America’s longest commuter, a software engineer who travels 372 miles a day, from the Sierra foothills to San Jose and back.
  • The number of commuters who travel 90 minutes or more each way has nearly doubled since 1990, reaching 3.5 million.
  • Americans average a commute of fifty-one minutes a day.
  • Residents of Bangkok average a grueling two hours (standard for the “automobile-plagued Asian mega-capitals”.)
  • 9 out of 10 travel to work by car.
  • 88% of those drive alone.
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