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Summary:

The news came out yesterday: the Texas Transportation Institute (part of the Texas A&M system) released their annual Urban Mobility Report. If you want just the sound bite, here it is: the average American commuter now (based on 2005 data) wastes 38 hours a year stuck […]

The news came out yesterday: the Texas Transportation Institute (part of the Texas A&M system) released their annual Urban Mobility Report. If you want just the sound bite, here it is: the average American commuter now (based on 2005 data) wastes 38 hours a year stuck in traffic, burning 26 gallons of fuel and spending over $700 to do so. If you’re in a major metro area, you can drill deeper to find the details for your own city.

 

Of course, there are very serious concerns about the state of the USA’s transportation infrastructure behind this dismal report. But for some web workers at least – those whose chosen plan of attack is the telecommute – these numbers confirm what we already know: traveling the digital highways is saving us a bunch of time and money. 38 hours a year represents a whole lot more than $700 to me, when you consider that I can actually bill that time (if I choose to spend them working) .

 

Of course, there are many other ways to look at that potential time: spend it with your family, invest it in learning new things, sleep a bit longer. But it’s nice to have the definite, quantifiable, tangible benefit: one working week for every year I telecommute, time not spent stuck in traffic, breathing exhaust fumes, listening to the radio and wishing I was at my destination. Personally, I’ll take that over the supposed benefits of office face time any year I can get it.

 

  1. Not only do you save the time (or bill for it, whatever), but you also contribute to lower environmental impact by not burning 26 gallons of fuel.

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  2. Only 38 hours a year? Well, I consider that a small deal. With rough calculation, I stuck in traffic 144 hours a year (or 6 days a year) and I only went to work 3 days a week and caught in traffic more or less 1 hour a day. To add more pain, the internet connection is slow and unreliable so telecommuting is out of question too.

    That’s the fact of living in a big and crowded metropolitan city in a developed country, so please, count most of you lucky, OK?

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  3. Oh, come on, as if all don’t disadvantages of commuting can’t be negated. Listen to voicebooks, podcasts or language learning CD-s while in the car; do some work when stuck by texting and mobile phone calls; switch your car’s AC to air circulation; and of course drive an electric car.

    ;)

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  4. The 38 hours a year is interesting but that is only the time you are stuck in traffic, that is not the real difference between a telecommuter and someone who has to drive into work everyday in the US.

    To get that have to add that to the average commute per year (approx 26 minutes one way according to Omnibus Household Survey).

    So….26 minutes, twice a day, 40 weeks a year would be a little over 170 hours a year.

    So you are looking at over 200 hours a year difference in total, i.e. at least 5 weeks a year (on average) of ‘wasted’ time vs. telecommuting.

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  5. [...] waste (on average) 38 hours stuck in traffic [...]

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  6. [...] year ago, the outlook for corporate telecommuting seemed optimistic.  More and more businesses and government agencies were taking the risk to allow their [...]

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