Europe Has Longer Commutes Than US Despite Transit Access

Wendell Cox has an interesting post over at (Oct. 18, 2011) discussing European commute times. Advocates of transit in the US often cite Europe as an alternative to the auto-centric focus of the US because official European policy discourages automobile use through higher gas prices and heavily subsidizes transit use. Yet, one downside, as Wendell notes, is that commutes are longer on average. Only the Sweden, Denmark, and Ireland report shorter commutes on average than the US. As Wendell writes:

“Out of 23 OECD nations, only three have shorter one way work trip travel times than in the United States. These are Sweden, Denmark and Ireland. These are nations without the larger metropolitan regions that characterize the United States and some other nations. For example, the largest metropolitan area in these three nations, Stockholm, with barely rate among the top 30 in the United States.

“The OECD report confirms similar earlier data, such as from Eurostat on the relative ease of commuting in the United States.

“The US average of 28 minutes to and from work was 10 minutes less than the OECD average and 9 minutes less than Canada. South Korea, with the highest urban densities in the high income world, had an average one-way commute time approximately double that of the United States.”

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.