News Release

Telecommuting Tops Mass Transit in 27 of the 50 Largest Metro Areas in US

Study details how telecommuting can help ease congestion

Los Angeles (November 10, 2005) – Technology is doing something transit planners have been unable to do for decades – get people out of their cars. Telecommuters, people working from home, now outnumber mass transit commuters in 27 of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, according to a new study by Reason Foundation.

Using the U.S. Census Bureau figures, the Reason Foundation study found that telecommuting tops transit in these cities:

City (Number of telecommuters for each transit commuter)
Austin (1.38) Jacksonville (1.53) Raleigh (2.06)
Charlotte (2.00) Kansas City (2.62) Richmond (1.24)
Columbus (1.30) Louisville (1.09) Rochester (1.45)
Dallas (1.67) Memphis (1.29) Sacramento (1.43)
Denver (1.07) Nashville (3.20) Salt Lake City (1.27)
Detroit (1.28) Norfolk (1.50) San Diego (1.29)
Grand Rapids (3.88) Oklahoma City (4.67) St. Louis (1.17)
Greensboro (2.67) Orlando (1.71) Tampa (2.38)
Indianapolis (2.23) Phoenix (1.85) West Palm Beach (2.73)

And in a head-to-head comparison with rail transit, the Reason study finds the numbers are even more tilted in telecommuting’s favor – with working from home beating commuting by rail in 18 of 23 areas.

City (Number of telecommuters for each rail commuter)
Atlanta (3.18) Hartford (25.00) Sacramento (13.33)
Buffalo (7.00) Los Angeles (12.00) Salt Lake City (12.67)
Cleveland (9.00) Miami (5.60) San Diego (22.00)
Dallas (30.00) Pittsburgh (24.00) San Francisco (1.17)
Denver (47.00) Portland (9.20) St. Louis (14.00)
Greensboro (24.00) Providence (3.00) West Palm Beach (20.50)

The few cities with long transit histories and vast rail networks – New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, Philadelphia and Boston – are the only ones with more rail commuters than telecommuters.

“Despite billions in taxpayer subsidies for transit projects – and no taxpayer subsidies for telecommuting -telecommuting has surpassed mass transit in over half of the nation’s biggest cities and will soon leapfrog it in several more,” said Ted Balaker, author of the report and a policy analyst at Reason Foundation.

The study says telecommuting is “zero-emissions transportation” and may be the most cost-effective way to reduce traffic congestion. Yet in a decision that could hurt telecommuting, the Supreme Court just refused to review New York’s policy of taxing the income of out-of-state telecommuters. This policy could leave many telecommuters vulnerable to double taxation, but Congress is considering the Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act to end the threat.

Full Study Online

Telecommuting’s Impact on Transportation and Beyond is available online at A summary of the report is available at

About Reason

Reason Foundation is a nonprofit think tank dedicated to advancing free minds and free markets. Reason produces respected public policy research and publishes the critically acclaimed magazine, Reason.


Ted Balaker, Policy Analyst and Jacob’s Fellow, Reason Foundation, (310) 391-2245 ext. 3014
Chris Mitchell, Media Relations, Reason Foundation, (800) 582-2245 ext. 3037