IBM Commuter Pain Survey

Published a few days ago on the IBM website:

ARMONK, NY – 04 Sep 2009: The second annual IBM Commuter Pain survey released today indicates that the recession is taking its toll on urban motorists, who have become significantly more sensitive to gas prices and are looking for ways to spend more time with family and friends.

The survey results portray the American commuter as re-evaluating the time spent getting to and from work. Frustration levels are rising — 45% identify start-stop traffic as the most frustrating part of the commute (up from 37% last year), and 32% identify aggressive/rude drivers (up from 24% last year).

If commuting time could be reduced, 52% would spend it with family/friends — nine points higher than 2008; 37% (6 points higher than 2008) would exercise more.

And drivers are more sensitive to the price of gas. This year, 20% said that $3.50/gallon gas would lead them to seriously consider alternatives to driving alone, in 2008, it was 9% at that price level.

“Conducted at a time of great change in the United States, the Commuter Pain survey clearly demonstrates the vast impact that commuting and traffic congestion have on our economy,” said Anne Altman, general manager of IBM’s global public sector. “The time has come for cities and states to embrace real, long-term solutions that unclog our nation’s roadways.”

Well said, Anne!

Read the article
Read the full report [PDF]

6 Responses to “IBM Commuter Pain Survey”

  • Fritz says:

    IBM’s big push is to use technology to help motor vehicle traffic move more efficiently, including things like road sensor networks that deliver congestion information to motorists.

    We use a lot of technology in the Bay Area for traffic management, but it’s unknown how much this helps. Ramp metering lights, for example, just move congestion “upstream” to local streets; and sigalert signs and radio traffic reports divert traffic to other roads to increase congestion in those places.

  • Tali says:

    I’m sure it would be much easier and cheaper to encourage people to work at or near their home and to encourage employers to provide work than it is to build roads, railways or even high quality bicycle infrastructure.

    We fixate on transport supply over demand.

    IMHO, anyone who lives more than 5 miles from work in an urban environment is either unlucky or a masochist.

  • Alan says:


    I totally agree with what you’re saying in principle, but the realities of dense business environments in large city centers makes it almost inevitable that a high percentage of people will live more than 5 miles from their workplace. At my workplace, for example, which is in the center of a dense urban area, over 300 people work in a building that takes up less than 1/8 of a city block. Many other buildings in the area harbor many thousands of workers. Unfortunately it’s inconceivable that all of those people could live within a few miles of where they work.

  • Duncan Watson says:

    I recently moved from 1 mile away from my office to 14.5 miles away. But my new location has a better cycle commute. 8 miles on separated bike trail and 6 miles with residential roads or bike lanes. My old commute had some unfortunate freeway crossings.

    I don’t mind my new commute at all, In fact I chose it deliberately to get more exercise in. But I have been commuting by bike for 20 years or so, I know I have the willpower to keep it up even in the winter.

  • Stephen says:

    I live in a mid-town neighborhood and can and do ride a bicycle to work. I can also walk five minutes to a bus stop, although they only run once an hour. However, to be fair to suburban dwellers, house prices and public school districts drive housing choices more than anything for most middle-class families, as well as fear of the city, cheap gas, and the desire for a more greener daily vista than many U.S. downtowns provide. This comes into play among DINKs who get pregnant too. I’ve seen it happen again and again.

    This is not to defend suburbanites, but to simply state the facts before we go off half-cocked on identifying villains and solutions. Increased fuel costs will probably change the balance more than anything else in the future, and the demand for in-town living will create the funds, population density, and political will to change downtowns into something more liveable. This process has already begun in many U.S. cities.

  • Larey says:

    When we are talking about living close to work to avoid commuting there is one point rearely mentioned — work moves. People change jobs and offices relocate, my office has moved three times in the last 10 years. It hasn’t been a big deal, so far, but even small moves can have big impacts on bike commuters just for a lack of a safe route. And moving can be difficult if you own a house or have a family. I enjoy watching the house-hunting shows from Europe, where they often pick a home that is close to public transportation stops and many homes are sold with the furniture to save the hassle of a big move.

© 2011 EcoVelo™