If it seems like your commute is getting longer every day, that’s not your imagination.
Commercial Cafe—the commercial real estate arm of the online rental platform Rent Cafe—claims that the average San Francisco commuter spends an additional 39 hours per year driving (or taking public transit) to and from work compared to 2008, and San Jose workers are stuck commuting almost a full two days extra relative to a decade ago, 47.7 more hours yearly in all.
Tragically, those are the two highest commute time hikes among the cities that Commercial Cafe surveyed in its report with the in this case redundant title of “Are You Living in One of the Cities Where Commuting Time Increased the Most or Least?”
The average SF commuter spends 67.6 minutes commuting every day, according to the report, compared to 58.6 in 2008. Multiply those eight minutes across a 50-week working year and it comes out to nearly 39 hours.
In San Jose, an average 2008 commute was 51.6 hours, but that’s spiked to 67.6 now. The data used to reach these conclusions comes out of the US Census and the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
“We extracted commuting characteristics by one-year estimates (2017 and 2008) and analyzed cities with a population larger than 500,000 people,” Commercial Cafe writer Robert Demeter says, adding that “[featured] cities were selected based on the most and least time spent in traffic.”
Looking at census surveys for 2017—the census does not have 2018 data available for commute times yet—32.4 percent of SF commuters say they usually drive to work alone, whereas 34.7 percent took public transit, 12 percent walked, 3.1 percent biked, and 7.2 percent. just worked at home.
The average (mean) travel time for SF in the census data is indeed what Commercial Cafe records—33.8 minutes, which the rental site doubles 67.6 minutes for the day to account for the trip home.
Technically, it’s likely that many return commutes are longer or shorter than the morning trip, but the census only asks about “travel time to work,” so while the doubling formula is probably not strictly accurate it’s still technically the best estimate available.
In 2010—the time of the last full census, which means a larger sample size and generally more accurate data compared to the surveys for years like 2008—the mean SF commute was 30.3 minutes, and the five-year estimate calculated that year just 29.4 minutes.
Alameda County gets overlooked in the commutes survey because few cities there break the 500,000 population mark, but Oakland’s mean commute is 33.9 minutes one way, way up from 26.9 in 2010.
In Fremont the average is 34.9 up from 27.9 previously. Whereas in Berkeley it’s just 29.8 minutes, versus 26.2 nearly a decade ago.