Along with the steep rise in normal super commuting — people commuting to a metropolitan area’s central county from homes outside the metro area — the number of people commuting across the country by plane has grown dramatically as well, at least in Manhattan. A recent article in Transportation Nation estimates that roughly 4,000 people commute by plane to Manhattan each week, often working two or three days in the City before traveling home. Although these commuters represent a very small slice of the total Manhattan workforce, this trend was undetectable ten years ago.
The growth of these extreme super commutes is attributed to people taking high-paying jobs in Manhattan while being unable or unwilling to sell their homes in other regions. Because of the high cost of housing in the New York City area, some super commuters even report that they come out ahead financially by making these long distance commutes, despite paying a mortgage on a home in another part of the country, renting an apartment in Manhattan, and flying between the two every week.
As technology enables more telecommuting and job and housing markets continue to be unstable, this trend towards very long commutes will likely continue, further blurring the boundaries between metropolitan areas and increasing the need for fast, efficient transportation links for large numbers of people. New York is unlikely to be the only city struggling to accommodate commuters from other areas, as a recent editorial in Houston and rail studies in Arizona point out.