Detroit’s bad commute: Not all hooey

Forbes loves publishing lists of dubious quality that are often based on census data. However, they recently named Metro Detroit as having the second worst commute in the U.S., which might be justifiable.

There are a few elements that easy-commuting cities have in common. In those places, more workers take advantage of public transportation, walk or bike; sprawl is minimal so workers tend to live closer to their offices; and the incidence of travel delays is low. To find the best and worst cities for commuters, we took the 60 largest metro areas and ranked each on three measures: The length of traffic delays at rush hour, the percentage of commuters who get to work by carpooling, biking, walking or taking public transportation (the “Green Commuter” rank); and the percentage of commuters that spend an hour or more getting to work. Click here for more details on the methodology.

Where Detroit scored most poorly was in the Green Commuting rank — we were last.

Then there’s Detroit. The city that comes in next to last was once at the forefront of transportation planning–the first urban freeways were built there. But its well-documented urban blight and population drain have wreaked havoc on the city’s infrastructure, and the once ubiquitous presence of the auto industry decimated what was a thriving public transportation system. Now, what would normally be a 45-minute drive takes an hour at peak times, and only 12% of commuters carpool, walk, bike or use public transportation–the lowest percentage of all the cities we tracked.

Detroit New’s columnist Tom Greenwood takes exception and makes the same mistake that transportation planners have made in Detroit for the past 50 years. They assume the word “commuting” means “driving.”

He adds, “I’ve driven in all those other cities, and I would rather have a tooth pulled than commute in any other big city compared to Detroit.”

It’s time to try that commute on a bike or by bus, Tom.?Detroit commuting looks a little different outside of the car.

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One Response to “Detroit’s bad commute: Not all hooey”

  1. JTF Says:

    From the Greenwood article: “What should be taken into account for Metro Detroit’s commute is the declining population and high unemployment rate, which results in fewer cars on the road.”

    So what is Greenwood saying, that if the economy continues to go into the toilet his “seat warmer” will enjoy it more and more?

    What a shortsighted, one sided opinion piece, or “a load of hooey” to put it in terms that he may be able to comprehend.

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