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Neil and Megan Van Asch leave early from Springfield for their jobs in Galena and Branson, respectively.
Neil and Megan Van Asch leave early from Springfield for their jobs in Galena and Branson, respectively.

State of the commute

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Neil and Megan Van Asch are doing their part to keep audio book companies in business.

Although Greene County workers traveled an average of 19.5 minutes to work daily, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2005–09 American Community Survey, the Van Asches logged a significantly higher amount of time behind the wheel traveling to work.

The Springfield couple travel separately to their respective jobs, his as a tester at medical-device testing company Dynatek Laboratories Inc. in Galena and hers as an accountant at Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. in Branson. Combined, the Van Asches spend at least 3 hours and 20 minutes driving to and from work.

On average, Missouri commuters logged 23.1 minutes in their cars, during the five-year study period.

The national average commute time is 25.2 minutes, the Census Bureau said.

The figure for Greene County doesn’t seem to be changing considerably, said Sara Edwards, executive director of the Ozarks Transportation Organization.

“In 2000, the average commute time for the city of Springfield was 17 minutes, up from 15.7 minutes in 1990,” said Edwards, who took the transportation organization’s top post in February. “So this does seem in line with prior numbers.”

Edwards said while the figure will likely continue to grow, it should remain below the state and national averages.

“We will continue to see it grow slowly, allowing us to stay below the national average commute time due to the region’s intentional focus on addressing congestion,” Edwards said.

“As we continue to grow and develop further out, it is likely that due to increased distance and the increased number of cars on the road, the time to get to work will increase as well.”

The survey also indicated that 35 percent of Missouri workers traveled outside of their county of residence for work. Missouri ranked 10th–highest in the nation for the percentage of workers employed outside their county of residence and above the U.S. average of 27.4 percent.

Despite their similar southern routes to work, the Van Asches do not carpool because their workplaces are about 25 miles apart. Neil Van Asch continues the long drive, in part, because of the tight job market.

“I just graduated with a master’s degree (in biology) from Missouri State University, and I was offered a job,” he said. “I haven’t really had any need to continue to look for a job – the job market’s been so down.”

The Van Asches are among the 81 percent of Missouri workers who travel to work by personal car, truck or van. That figure is higher than the national figure of 75.9 percent.
Despite their long commutes, moving closer to work hasn’t been considered. “We never really had any thoughts of moving,” he said.

In spite of the Van Asch’s higher-than-average commute times, Edwards said it’s important for the city and county to maintain commute times below the state and national averages.

“Lower commute times are always better,” Edwards said. “This number seems very competitive for a community of our size.”

Edwards said the Missouri Department of Transportation and the city collaborate to deal with congestion that affects commute times through signal timing and other factors.[[In-content Ad]]

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