The List: The 10 Longest Commutes for NJ’s Largest Municipalities

Colleen O'Dea, Senior writer | September 19, 2017 | The List
Getting to work takes more time than ever before. Is the Garden State in danger of becoming the gridlock state?

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The average commute to work keeps getting longer for New Jerseyans.

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey shows the average commute to work for those 16 and older increased by 18 seconds between 2015 and 2016 to 31.7 minutes. While 18 seconds may not seem like much, when added up over a year they mean the typical commuter spent about 2 3/4 hours more in the car or on public transportation getting to work.

That daily trip to work is a full minute longer than in 2012.

Of those who are commuting, fewer are driving alone: 70.8 percent in 2016, down from 71.8 percent the prior year and 72 percent in 2012. There’s likely a correlation between the longer commute and greater proportion of public transportation users: The website Governing found earlier this year that a commute via transit takes nearly twice as long as driving.

On the other hand, slightly fewer people are going to an office: 4.4 percent of workers telecommuted, up from 4.1 percent in 2015.

Commute times vary widely depending on where a person lives and works. Sussex County residents have the longest trips to work — 39 minutes. The average Cape May commuter spends just 21.2 minutes getting to a job.

These are the longest average commuting times for the residents of the state’s largest municipalities in 2016:

1. Jersey City – 38.6 minutes

This is up from 36.5 minutes in 2015. At the same time, the proportion of those driving alone to work plummeted from 34.8 percent in 2012 to 30.6 percent last year. A significant portion of those living in Jersey City work in New York City and take the PATH into Manhattan.

2. Old Bridge – 37.9 minutes

That’s a full minute longer than in 2015. While 72.1 percent of commuters drove to work alone, 8.1 percent didn’t have to leave home to work.

3. Bayonne – 37.1 minutes

That’s almost four minutes longer than in 2015. Like residents of Jersey City and other Hudson County communities, most workers do not drive to the job.

4. Edison – 35.6 minutes

Edison commuters spent slightly less time getting to work in 2016 than in 2015, although it still takes longer than in 2012 when the average commute lasted 34.7 minutes.

5. East Orange – 35.4 minutes

That’s almost two minutes longer than in 2012. Almost six in 10 city commuters drive alone to work.

6. Newark – 34.7 minutes

Newark residents have added 2.2 minutes on average to their commutes, while more are driving themselves to work – 53.7 percent drove last year, up 6 percentage points over 2012. The city has seen a construction boom that has added more than 1,000 new residential units.

7. Middletown – 34.4 minutes

Residents have shaved almost six minutes off the average commute since 2012. During the same period, the proportion working from home increased by about 1 percentage point to 5.2 percent.

8. Union City – 33.7 minutes

Another Hudson County city with high public transit use: Fewer than a third drove themselves to work while the average commute was 2.3 minutes longer in 2016 than in 2012.

9. Brick – 33.3 minutes

Last year’s commute took about 2 1/2 minutes longer than in 2015 in this bedroom community. Almost 85 percent of workers drove alone to work.

10. Franklin Township (Somerset County) – 32.9 minutes

The average commute time dropped by more than two minutes between 2015 and 2016. More than three-quarters of workers drove themselves while 6.5 percent worked from home.