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.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.