Bay Area commuters see country’s largest drop in travel times post-pandemic


Traffic crowds the Bay Bridge tunnel. Commuters in San Francisco saw the largest decrease in commute times after the pandemic. 

Traffic crowds the Bay Bridge tunnel. Commuters in San Francisco saw the largest decrease in commute times after the pandemic. 

Thomas Winz/Getty Images

Commute times in the San Francisco Bay Area have shortened the most in the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, new U.S. Census data shows. 

San Franciscans who commute to work had an average of 6.4 minutes shaved off their daily travel time in 2021 compared to 2019, according to U.S. Census data analyzed by Axios. This is primarily due to the increase in remote work brought on by the pandemic. 

Data from the Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey shows that the number of people working from home tripled between 2019 and 2021, from 5.7% to 17.9% of workers, or roughly 9 million to 27.6 million people. Among metro areas with populations of a million or more residents, the Bay Area had the highest percentage of remote workers — the San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro areas had about 35% of its workforce primarily working from home. The Census Bureau attributes this to the area’s strong links to the information and technology sectors. 

This shift has caused a decrease of nearly 15 million people who commute to work alone by private vehicle, survey data shows. Commuting via public transportation also fell by about half. 

The city that came closest to San Francisco’s decrease in commute times was Boston, with 5.8 minutes cut from residents’ daily commutes. Next was Washington, D.C., with a decrease of 4.6 minutes, and Baltimore, with a decrease of 4 minutes. 

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