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.