Will easy commutes linger?

January 29, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

One of the few pleasant byproducts of the recession and its aftermath has been relaxed commutes—fewer people driving to work, fewer trucks delivering things, fewer service vehicles zipping about. There seems to be less congestion.

The observation is mine along with others who have mentioned similar experiences driving back and forth to work. If you see something different, chime in with a comment. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with anecdotal evidence because government statisticians don’t track traffic patterns consistently at the local level.

If you’re noticing comparatively hassle-free commutes, enjoy them while they last. Broader traffic counts, which dipped in 2008, are rising again.

Miles driven in the upper Midwest are recovering to 2007 levels. In Indiana, traffic already has exceeded 2007 levels on major city streets and highways; in November, traffic on these Hoosier “urban arterials” almost broke a record set in the same month in 2006.

All of which raises a question: If traffic is surging, why hasn’t gridlock of old returned?

Economist Morton Marcus thinks it’s because people who were laid off are still struggling to find jobs. So they aren’t on the roads during the heaviest drive times.

That explanation is borne out by employment in the Indianapolis area. The region has lost about 50,000 jobs, and the numbers were still dropping as of December.

Marcus believes overall traffic is rising because people who didn’t lose jobs are easing back into normal lifestyles. They’re packing popular restaurants and heading to malls. However, few of them are on roads during peak drive times, so they have little impact on commutes.

Trucks are replenishing depleted inventories in warehouses, but their presence is spread throughout the day, not just during peak traffic.

Eventually, employers will start hiring again, as they usually do during the final stages of a typical economic cycle. Until then, commutes promise to remain tolerable.

What are your thoughts?

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Response from one of the unemployed
    This makes perfect sense to me. As one of the scores of unemployed, I can say for certain I am no longer on the roads during the morning or evening rush hours. I commuted 30 miles for over 20 years and have been off the road during rush hours for the past 6 months. Multiply the effect of that by the number of unemployed commuters and it makes perfect sense.
  • Commuter Driver
    I have told many friends that commutes are getting worse, and that it is indicative of more people back to work. Maybe we are not back to the peak level but at the same time, look at the road improvements along the I69 corridor, 465 on the west side, 465 and I70 on the eastside a few years ago, Keystone from Carmel to 465 some of which is completed, and numerous other smaller projects. I would like to think our tax dollars have made commutes easier because of improved engineering and capacity, as much as fewer cars traveling the same routes.
  • depends...
    Well, it depends. I have seen a downward spiral from 2007 to about March 2009 - when I was let go (and I was off for 8 months), and when I was back in a new job, i noticed a lower car ratio. Since the hire date, I have seen an increase, but then again, the holiday rush has provided alot of that travel (in the afternoon/evening traveling). In this past month, there has been a little more than in march of last year, but it is too early to tell.

    Until the rehiring starts, I will enjoy the commute on 3-4 different routes that I take (pending on traffic on i65 and weather conditions).

Post a comment to this blog

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

  2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

  3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

  4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

  5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com

ADVERTISEMENT