Mary Altaffer  /  AP file
Traffic flows into Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge during a rush-hour snowstorm on Feb. 28. The average commute for New Yorkers is 38 minutes, according to the Census report.
updated 3/31/2005 12:03:36 PM ET 2005-03-31T17:03:36

To the list of extreme sports, add extreme commuting: those who travel 90 minutes or more on the trek to work.

Nationally, only 2 percent of workers log those kind of one-way commuting times, but their numbers are growing, according to a 2003 Census Bureau survey released Wednesday.

In New York City and Baltimore, 5.6 percent of commuters spent 90 minutes or more on the trip into work; elsewhere, 5 percent of commuters in Riverside, Calif., and 3 percent of commuters in Philadelphia and Los Angeles spent an hour-and-a-half on the one-way commute.

The average one-way commute took 24.3 minutes in 2003, two minutes more than it took in 1990, according to the survey, which included all 50 states and cities with populations of 250,000 or more.

On average, workers in New York City spent the longest traveling to work — 38 minutes. Chicago commuters came in second at 33 minutes. Commuters in Newark, N.J., Riverside, Calif., and Philadelphia rounded out the top five cities, with workers in each needing about 30 minutes.

Workers in Tulsa, Okla., Wichita, Kan., and Corpus Christi, Texas, had the shortest commutes, averaging less than 17 minutes.

New York, Maryland lead the nation
Among states, New York and Maryland residents averaged the longest commute — about 30 minutes. Residents of North Dakota and South Dakota had the shortest — just over 15 minutes.

Added up, commuters are spending more than 100 hours a year just getting to work, said U.S. Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon.

Nationally, less than 5 percent of commuters took public transportation; when they did, it often took a few minutes longer to get to work than for those who drove, the survey showed. About 77 percent of commuters drive alone, compared with 73 percent in 2000.

The census figures are based on the bureau’s annual American Community Survey, which surveyed 800,000 households in 2003, including commuters 16 years and older. Information is used in deciding where to build new roads and new schools, Kincannon said.

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