Ever wonder where all the hours in a day go? If you’re like most Americans, you’re likely spending about 52 minutes of it commuting. Cumulatively, that’s roughly five days a year of sitting, spilling coffee on your shirt or scanning for the local NPR station.
Most people in the Hudson Valley commute. According to a study by Marist College, more than half of all working residents in the region commuted in 2015. And the majority of them weren’t simply driving into the next county. Just under half were headed into New York City.
And all that time spent in a daily commute comes with costs. Lots of costs.
The time commuters spend on the road is rising. Census data show that the share of Dutchess County commuters who travel an hour or more to work outpaced any other group.
While the data doesn’t bear out why this is happening, it may be that they’re part of a larger “super commuter” trend, when travel time is 90 minutes or more. A Pew report on this trend said a factor includes high rents that drive workers out of cities. Instead of settling in the suburbs, workers are going further — like the exurban Hudson Valley.
Commuting can take a toll on your health. A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that long commutes correlate with lower participation in “vigorous” physical activity, higher body mass index, waist circumference and blood pressure. Another study suggests that commuting leads to higher levels of stress and a general feeling of malaise.
While it’s tricky to calculate the exact costs of a commute on car owners (though this commute calculator from rideshare.com can help), a recent AAA report estimates the cost of operating a 2017 model-year car to be $6,354 a year. (There’s also this handy real cost of car ownership calculator.)
And train fares keep rising. A monthly pass on Metro-North from Beacon to Grand Central is $475. It’ll cost you $44 just for a one-time round trip.
Then there’s the cost on the environment — like all that carbon dioxide cars emit (see the EPA’s “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle” guide). Last year INRIX, which analyzes transportation data, found that traffic congestion and all the emissions, wasted fuel and time that come with it, will cost the US $2.2 trillion by 2026.
Missing Main Street
Finally, there’s the cost on a local economy. In 2016 Census data shows that roughly a third of Dutchess County residents held a job in another county. In Beacon, a city that’s pegged as a place for commuters into NYC, that share leaps to 44 percent. On a given weekday, that means a fraction of residents are on Main Street buying lunch or picking up a prescription.
So what’s the antidote?
Coworking to the Rescue!
As workers seek a better work-life balance, options such as telecommuting as an employee or working independently as a consultant or freelancer are becoming more and more viable. Coworking spaces like BEAHIVE can help.
Coworking — where people work in a shared space, alone and together — is a balm for what ails the weary traveler. And the environment and our communities.