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The Best & Worst Commute Times, And What To Do About It

FastracksThe Census Bureau has just published its ranking of average commute times in major U.S. cities and most extreme commute times (Adobe Acrobat required). The cities with the highest average commute times are:

1. New York, NY (38.3 minutes)
2. Chicago, IL (33.2 minutes)
3. Newark, NJ (31.5 minutes)
4. Riverside, CA (31.2 minutes)
5. Philadelphia, PA (29.4 minutes)

Commute time has become an important battleground in the war of the municipalities, along with how "wired" they are and their ability to attract conventions. By using a sales tax increase to fund a $4.7 billion dollar expansion project, Denver's RTD transportation authority is adding 119 miles of rail, but more importantly, acts as a catalyst for Transit-Oriented Development (TODs): real estate developments that mix residential, office and retail space, thereby spurring further economic investment and community planning. Real estate investors like Shea Properties (68 acres with 300,000 square feet of retail space) and Trammell Crow (438 unit apartment building, already sold) like TODs and are investing in Denver TODs (WSJ subscription required).

As cities like Phoenix, San Diego, Dallas and Houston successfully launch similar projects, TODs will need to market a sense of "place" to their stakeholders, and in the process helping consumers rethink their definition of what a mall is. A study by the University of North Texas found that the new DART system in the Dallas region has already generated over $800 million in development, and that the full system is projected to generate $3.7 billion in economic activity upon build out.

Where there is traffic, there will be commerce.

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