Commuting in the Twin Cities: Is 4 minutes a big deal?

The Texas A&M University Transportation Institute has released a report saying that traffic congestion in the Twin Cities makes us waste 34 hours a year in the car than we otherwise would if there were substantially fewer traffic woes.

The Urban Mobility Report — available here — says the 34 hours of wasted time (unless you’re listening to something worth listening to on the radio, of course) is a little less than other cities.

But 34 hours? That’s a lot. Or is it? Obviously, it depends on your average commute. According to the report’s stress index, if you have a 20 minute commute when the roads are fine, it’ll be a 25 minute commute at peak traffic.

Assuming you drive in two different directions on your commute and you do so five days a week, you’re “losing” just under 4 minutes per trip, which — if that really bothers you — you could cut in half by leaving work 4 minutes early today.

The report also contains a Planning Time Index which shows a 20-minute commute in the Twin Cities could be about an hour, but that’s based on a ratio of uncongested freeways vs. the worst day of the month. And every day isn’t the worst day of the month.

The report also says one — a minor one, but still one — solution to the problem is to adjust one’s expectations. When people all want to get to the same spot at the same time, it’s going to take a little longer than when they don’t.

  • If time weren’t of such importance to some drivers, why do people even speed? So, yes, I would very much believe that four-minutes is “a lot” to some people. I recall an old anti-speeding TV campaign that illustrated the arrival-time difference between driving 55 mph and driving 65 mph over the course of 40-miles or so. Less than a minute or two?

  • Amy

    Recently I moved, not even really closer to work, but closer to freeway access and my commute is now about 4 minutes (8 in rush hour) which is why this article caught my attention. In fact, my commute is so short I often take the side streets just so I don’t get there too quick! (need time for the morning coffee to kick in!) I’m not missing anything but a headache long forgotten by living close to work! You cannot beat it.

  • boB from WA

    Having lived in both MSP and Seattle WA, I could never fathom why the MSPers could complain about rush hour, when for those in Seattle the avg time per day was closer to an hour. Good thing even then there was ATC and Morning Edition.