ATLANTA -- In a new report, the U.S. Census Bureau is tracking mega commuters, those traveling 90 minutes or more every day. Atlanta is a top spot for those extreme drivers.
Before the sun breaks the horizon, a large parking lot tucked off Sugarloaf Parkway is full. Commuters at the park and ride there don't need a new Census report to tell them they're super commuters. "Sometimes it does feel like a disaster zone, because you go through so many different counties with accidents," Harriet Canfield said.
She's exactly the kind of commuter named in the report. She travels 2 hours each way every day. She drives the first half by car from Athens, then takes a bus for the second half. "It just makes since between the gas and the HOT expense to ride the bus," she said.
The U.S. Census Bureau report says 23% of long commuters (those with a commute of 60 minutes or more) use public transportation, compared to just 5.3% of other commuters. The report also says mega commuters are more likely to start their commute before 6:00AM. It's a trend that has stayed pretty steady. Nationwide since 2000, about 8% of commuters travel 60 minutes, around 3-percent travel for 90 minutes.
Atlanta is ahead of that curve, making the top ten list for mega commuters. San Fransisco is number one, then New York, and Washington D.C. Atlanta is number seven.
For Harriet and her thousands of fellow mega commuters, it's confirmation they have company on their long ride home.
The Census Bureau says further research is needed to better understand if mega commuting is a choice or a necessity. They want to look into the possibility it's a result of the changing employment landscape, where workers are forced to travel further because of limited job opportunities.