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Average Commute Times Won't Change Because of the Hyperloop

Hyperloops and wider highways don't shrink commute times, the real factor in how long people will drive is how long people are willing to drive.
August 19, 2017, 1pm PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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The Hyperloop is a compelling idea, and it has led to a lot of expansive thinking about the future of life and transit, but it's not going to shorten the average American commute, according to the case made by Emily Badger in the New York Times. Even if the Hyperloop ever does get built (a big if) it's unlikely to change the length of the average American commute or even the commute of the town in which it gets built. Because more infrastructure doesn't mean shorter commutes, and it never has.

Commute times have held relatively steadily across time and geography. "Of course plenty of workers trek less or much more, but average American commute times have budged only modestly over the last 35 years, since the census began asking about them," Emily Badger writes. She goes on to point out average commute times around the globe generally sit close to this number as well. None of this is to say changes in travel infrastructure can't change people's lives. They may make us safer, change the places we live, work and entertain ourselves. Even if the Hyperloop comes to fruition, which Badger calls a "wild hypothetical," it won't change the length of our average commutes.

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Published on Thursday, August 10, 2017 in The New York Times
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