Levinson, David and Ajay Kumar (1994) The Rational Locator: Why Travel Times Have Remained Stable. Journal of the American Planning Association, Summer 1994 60:3 319-332.
This paper evaluates household travel surveys for the Washington metropolitan region conducted in 1968 and 1988, and shows that commuting times remain stable or decline over the twenty year period despite an increase in average travel distance, after controlling for trip purpose and mode of travel. The average automobile work-to-home time of 32.5 minutes in both 1968 and 1988 is, moreover, very consistent with a 1957 survey showing an average time of 33.5 minutes in metropolitan Washington. Average trip speeds increased by more than 20 percent, countering the effect of increased travel distance. This change was observed during a period of rapid suburban growth in the region. With the changing distributional composition of trip origins and destinations, overall travel times have remained relatively constant. The hypothesis that jobs and housing mutually co-locate to optimize travel times is lent further support by these data.