Law Prof Part of 'Super-Commuter' Trend Chronicled in NYU Study

Commuting used to conjure up images of a 30-minute train ride and a quick walk to the office. No longer. Now for many workers it can mean plane flights and half-day drives, according to a study that found an increase in the number of workers whose homes are far outside the metropolitan area where they work.

Growth rates for super-commuters far outpace workforce growth rates. According to the study (PDF) by New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation, the number of these “super-commuters” rose in eight of the country’s 10 largest metro areas.

Dallas-Fort Worth to Houston super commutes more than tripled from 2002 to 2009, while Northern California to Los Angeles super-commutes more than doubled. In both Dallas and Houston, 13 percent of the workforce consists of super-commuters. “While ‘twin cities’ of the past typically sat 40 miles apart, the new ‘twin cities’ stretch 100-200 miles away from one another, with ever-growing inter-commutes,” the study says. Bloomberg and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have stories on the trend.

Teri Dobbins-Baxter is an example, the Post-Dispatch says. On Tuesday mornings, she catches a plane at Chicago’s Midway Airport and travels to St. Louis, where she spends two days a week working as a law professor at St. Louis University.

Study author Mitchell Moss partly attributes the trend to technology that lets employees work anywhere and spend less time in the office. Dobbins-Baxter gives another reason for her long commute: She would lose a lot of money if she and her husband sold their home for the St. Louis move.

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