Welcome to the Age of the “Super-Commuter”
Growing numbers of people are traveling really long distances to get to work. Many even travel hundreds of miles from their homes to their jobs. They take a combination of cars, planes, trains and buses to get from home to the office, and back.
These people are known as — what else — “super-commuters.”
New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation reports from 2002 to 2009 the number of super-commuters grew in eight of the 10 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.
The growth of super-commuters is noticeable in large urban and metropolitan areas all over the country, including Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. Of those, Houston has seen the biggest increase in super-commuters – nearly double what it was in 2002.
Who are these people and why do they do this? Experts say the typical super-commuter is under 29 years old, works in the central county of a metropolitan area, but lives outside the boundaries of that metropolitan area. Some live so far from their jobs they have to travel to another city on Monday, and return home after work on Friday.
One man who lost his job in Austin drives 170 miles to his new job in Houston on Monday, stays in a Houston apartment during the week, and drives home to Austin on Friday night. He says he does it because the Austin housing market is so bad he can’t sell his house and move without taking a big loss.
That man’s story is common, especially in Texas. In fact, researchers say Texas has the largest concentration of super commuters in the country. About 13 percent of the combined workforces in the Houston and Dallas metro areas — about 427,000 people — now meet the definition of super commuter.
Super commuters are everywhere you look, even east Texas. There are people who live in Lufkin and Nacogdoches, but work in nearby cities like Tyler, Marshall and Beaumont, and relatively far away cities like Houston and Dallas.
Some work on oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and commute back and forth every three weeks.
Even if you’re not a super commuter, you probably know someone who is.