Fermi’s Commute to Work

How much does the commute to work cost? All of us spend time on the road each day on the way to work and back. Have you ever stopped to think how much this costs? I’m not talking about how much this costs the employees, but how much this costs the country’s economy.

I tried to approximate this using the following method:

1) I assumed that on average each person spends 20 minutes per day on the way to work and another 20 minutes on the way back home.

2) I assumed that if each person saved this time and made it instantly from home to work and back, 50% of the saved time would be spent doing additional work.

3) The GDP of Israel (in 2008) was 760 billion shekels.

Using these figures, we can conclude that if people did not have to commute and instead spent 50% of the saved time at work, the GDP would grow by 3.7% or 28 billion shekels. In fact, saving an average of one minute per person on their commute would increase the GDP by 700 million shekels.

Considering that the government gets a fat slice of the profits of each company, this should be quite an incentive to try to cut back on commute time. Be that cutting back on traffic jams, or trying to develop new roads, or better yet creating a decent public transportation system.

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