Huge Jump In Bay Area 'Super Commuters'

Matt Bigler
August 21, 2019 - 3:03 pm
 Traffic moves through an interchange along Interstate 580 on July 25, 2019 in Oakland, California.

Justin Sullivan/KCBS Radio

A new study confirms what most Bay Area commuters already know: there has been a massive increase in the number of residents who drive more than 90 minutes just to get to work.

“We’re seeing a huge increase in super commuters throughout the Bay Area,” said Chris Salviati, a housing economist with Apartment List, the rental platform that conducted the survey. “From 2009-2017 we see a 126% increase in the number of super commuters living in Alameda County.”

And San Francisco County and Contra Costa County were not far behind with respective increases of 110% and 101%

Unsurprisingly, Salviati attributes the change to the rising cost of housing in the Bay Area.

“Folks end up getting pushed further and further to the outskirts of the metro to find housing that they can afford and they’re dealing with 90-plus minute commutes each way," he said. 

So who is a regular commuter? While some residents can afford the Bay Area’s high housing prices and live close to work, many are also managing by spreading their finances thin. “Folks who are maybe not willing to make that 90-plus minute commute, instead they just spend a greater share of their income on their rent or housing cost,” said Salviati. “Which is certainly problematic in a different way.”

There is one piece of good news. Apartment List also found that employers are becoming more amenable to employees working from home, easing some of the stress of super commuting.

Apartment List did not measure the impact of worsening traffic on commute times.

  • Across the country, super commuting is up by 31.7%.
  • The number of super commuters in the Bay Area increased by 85%. Compare that to the 11% increase across the overall workforce in the same period.
  • Every Bay Area county saw an increase of at least 50%, except for Sonoma (5.6%) and Napa (13.2%)
  • 14% of people who use public transit are super commuters, compared to only 2.4% of drivers.

Massive increase in Bay Area "super commuters"

Reported by Matt Bigler. Written by Jessica Yi.