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Atlanta counts 100K ‘super commuters’ now, slogging 90+ minutes to work

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Report: ATL’s super-commuting legions have grown by 14 percent since 2005, with rising housing costs largely to blame

A photo of bad traffic in downtown Atlanta at evening.
A familiar scene throughout the week on downtown’s Connector.
Atlanta Regional Commission

A new analysis lumps Atlanta in with New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles—that is, “expensive metros with strong economies”—in listing U.S. cities where the share of so-called “super commuters” is highest.

What’s a super commuter? A hero en route to the office? Hardly.

It’s a class of nearly 4 million American workers saddled with commuting for an hour and a half or more to their jobs each day.

And in Atlanta, the super-commuter community is quickly growing, per a report titled, “Rise of the Super Commuters” by online rental marketplace Apartment List.

Back in 2005, just 3.5 percent of metro Atlantans were considered super commuters.

That figure has swelled by 14 percent, and almost 102,000 workers throughout the Atlanta region now fall under the super-commuter classification, according to Sydney Bennet, Apartment List senior research assistant.

What’s changed since 2005, beyond the addition of roughly 1.5 million metro ATLiens?

Many experts attribute the super-commuter spike to skyrocketing housing costs, per the study, which have pushed commuters to cheaper housing that’s farther from job centers.

Surprisingly, in Atlanta, super commuters are more likely to be reliant on public transportation than mired behind their steering wheels in Connector traffic.

Perhaps it speaks to the shortcomings of regional public transportation, but the vast majority (83 percent) of super commuters aren’t drivers, the study found.

How lower-income Atlantans are disproportionately dependent on public transportation, and subject to 90-plus-minute commutes, per the findings.

It bears mentioning that Atlanta again landed at No. 4 in a ranking of the most congested U.S. cities published in February by transportation analytics company INRIX.

Domestically, the ATL ranked behind congestion leaders LA, New York, and San Francisco, respectively. The 70 hours Atlantans spent mired in traffic during peak travel times last year was good/bad for eighth worst in the world, per INRIX’s findings.