Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bigger Houses, Longer Commutes -- NY Times

Here's the letter I wrote in response to this article (which was never published):

I read with great interest the recent real estate section article on the longer commutes people are undertaking to have bigger homes. It's amazing how much time people are spending commuting. Many of the commutes referred to involve long train trips on Metro-North and other commuter railroads. I just wanted to point out that if somehow higher speed rail could be installed in the New York City area, such as is available in Europe and Japan, many of these longer commutes would go down. For instance, one could envision the commute from New Haven, CT to midtown alluded to in the article falling from about 90 minutes to under an hour easily with higher speed rail. If this did happen, the property values of the houses served by this higher speed rail would dramatically increase given their new found proximity to Manhattan. One wonders whether somehow one could take the extra value created through the increase of property values for all of these houses and, to some degree, use it to finance the construction of the railroads.

Bigger Houses, Longer Commutes
Published: May 21, 2006
ON weekdays, Julie Kroloff sets the coffee maker for 5:45 a.m., then speeds through her kitchen in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., and grabs a cup to fortify herself for the long drive ahead. If Ms. Kroloff, a self-employed consultant, is on time, she backs out of the garage just before 6 and makes the trip from Dutchess County to her office in Midtown Manhattan in just under two hours. If traffic is heavy, Ms. Kroloff's 54-mile commute can take two and a half hours or more....
According to the latest statistics from the Census Bureau, the migration outward and the trend toward longer commutes to New York City intensified during the 1990's. In Dutchess County, for example, the number of people who commuted to the city rose 46 percent in that decade, to 5,798 from 3,975. In New Jersey, the number of people commuting from Warren County, due west of Manhattan at the Pennsylvania border, was up 39 percent, rising from 539 in 1990 to 748 in 2000. In New Haven County in Connecticut, the increase was 25 percent, from 1,797 to 2,243. But in Suffolk County, the eastern part of Long Island, the numbers increased by only 2 percent, rising to 80,003 from 78,291 in 1990....

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