Long Commutes are Equivalent to Pay Cuts
According to a new study by the University of West England, adding 10 minutes each way to your daily commute is the equivalent, in terms of job satisfaction, of taking a 19% pay cut. For every additional 20 minutes each day you spend on a bus, driving a vehicle, or riding the subway, you have the same amount of dissatisfaction with your work as if your salary was decreased by almost 1/5th. Commuting, quite simply, makes us unhappy; unfortunately, congestion in many cities is on the rise and commutes are getting longer, with the number of extreme commutes (over 90 minutes each way) increasing at the fastest rate. With cities facing unprecedented affordable housing challenges, it is not surprising that people are moving further and further away from their jobs- but at what cost?
It’s not all commutes that are affected though; those that commute by walking or cycling do not see the same declines. According to The Telegraph:
“Long journeys by bus were associated with the biggest reduction in job satisfaction, while walking to work or working from home increased job satisfaction, and cycling to work also improved employees’ perception of their own health.”
Those who incorporate active transportation into their commutes can counter the negative effects of their time on the roads. Vancouver holds an annual commute challenge in which a driver, cyclist, and transit rider all take the same route from home to work. This challenge has shown that cycling is one of the most efficient commute options, with 6 out of 11 routes in their competition being “won” by the cyclist. In many urban cores, cycling is not only equally efficient or more efficient than other transportation options, but it also has a positive impact on perceived health and mitigates the effects of negative job satisfaction.
How can we use this research to build better cities? What can these results teach us to shift the conversations around density, shared street design, congestion, and zoning? If people move further away from their jobs to find affordable housing, how can we mitigate the effects their new commutes have on their quality of life?