Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rat Race: America's commutes start earlier and last longer

Working in the city and living on one's own land far out in the countryside has always been a goal for many Americans. The recession has turned hours of commuting to and from work into a reality that's hard to escape.

Every morning, Catherine Fortney's alarm rings at 03:30 and by the time the clock strikes 06:00, she must be at the nearby bus stop.

Her commute to a law practice in downtown Washington DC will take 90 minutes to two hours each way.

Ms Fortney is far from alone on the road at that time. Almost every third working person in Southern Maryland commutes over an hour. In the last 10 years no other state grew faster in this category, according to US Census data.

As a single mother, Ms Fortney jumped on the chance to double her salary as a legal assistant when her former boss opened an office in Washington. The bus she takes is often cold and crowded, she says, and it broke down entirely not too long ago.

But the $10 (£6.48) round-trip bus ticket is cheaper than the $20 for gasoline per trip and the $13 for parking her car in the city, she says. more