October 2003 Volume 3, Issue 4

October 2003
Volume 3, Issue 4

From Home to Work, the Average Commute is 26.4 Minutes

The average commuter spends about 26 minutes on a one-way trip to work, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) Omnibus Household Survey. About three out of four commuters report spending 30 minutes or less on their daily one-way commute to work while about 5 percent report a one-way commute of more than an hour. (see figure 1)

Aggregated results from the Omnibus Household Survey conducted in February, April, June, and August of 2003 show an average of 127.3 million adult U.S. residents1 (61 percent) were employed for pay or profit in the calendar month preceding the surveys. About nine out of ten workers (92 percent) reported that they commuted from home to work and the majority of workers (90 percent) commuted on at least 15 days during the month prior to the survey.

To get to work, the average commuter travels approximately 15 miles one way. Two out of three commuters (68 percent) reported a one-way commute of 15 miles or less, 22 percent traveled between 16 and 30 miles and 11 percent traveled more than 30 miles2. (see figure 2)

The majority of commuters (81 percent) used only their personal vehicle to complete their commute and most personal vehicle users (86 percent) drove alone. About 4 percent of commuters drove or rode in a company car, 3 percent used only public transit, 2 percent relied solely on a car or van pool , and 2 percent used some other mode of transportation (for example biking or walking). About 7% of commuters reported that they used some combination of transportation modes to get to work. The majority of these commuters (73 percent) used their private vehicle and some other mode or modes of transportation. (see table 1)

Nine out of ten commuters (91 percent) reported that they worked at the same location on most work days. About one out of six US residents (17%) who worked in the month prior to the survey, reported that they had either telecommuted or worked at a telework center at some time in their career and 4 percent reported that they were currently doing so. Findings on commuting to work from the BTS Omnibus Household Survey show that average commuting time has not changed significantly since the 2000 Census3. Census data show an average one-way commute of 25.5 minutes reported by 124.1 million residents4. (see table 2)

Source and Accuracy Statements

Methodology. Data presented in this OmniStats are taken from the several issues of the 2003 BTS Omnibus Household Survey (covering activities in the months prior to the survey). The target population for the survey is the adult (18 years or older) non-institutionalized population of the US. Results are based on completed bi-monthly samples of 1000+ households that are randomly selected using a list-assisted random digit dialing (RDD) methodology.

Margin of Error. Survey data provide estimates of population parameters and are subject to error because findings are based on a sample, rather than on the entire population. Margins of error for findings in this report are shown in the tables included in this report (based on a 95% confidence interval). Estimates are also subject to nonsampling error, e.g., coding, transcription, or data coding errors. For additional information on the Omnibus Household Survey, visit the BTS website at http://www.bts.gov/omnibus/household/index.html..

Contacts. For additional information, contact the following individuals:
Survey questions: lori.putman@bts.gov (202-366-5336)
This report: june.jones@bts.gov (202-366-4743)
Media inquiries: roger.lotz@bts.gov (202-366-2246)

1 The target population includes non-institutionalized adult (18 years or older) U.S. residents.

2 Percentages may not sum to 100 percent due to rounding.

3 Data from the 2000 Census are available on the US Census website at http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en.

4 The Census questionnaire asks about the calendar week prior to filling out the form while the Omnibus Household Survey asks about commuting during the month prior to the survey. In addition, Census figures are based on workers aged 16 and older while BTS data are based on workers aged 18 and older.