Seattle’s mega-commuters: We spend more time than ever traveling to work

“I had no idea it was this insane,” Seattle newcomer Colleen Williams said about her 90-minute commute from Rainier Valley to Bellevue. The region’s growth of mega-commuters ranks among the top in the nation, writes FYI Guy.

Ryan Maas knew, of course, that Seattle was more expensive than Omaha. Even so, he found himself caught off guard by the grim reality of the real-estate market here.

After accepting a job transfer in Seattle earlier this year, Maas began the search for a new home for his family. Prices kept pushing his house hunt farther south, right into Pierce County.

“I started looking at Kent, Auburn — all those areas where the train stops,” Maas said. ”I ended up in Bonney Lake. I didn’t plan on being that far, but you get more bang for your buck.”

And that, in a nutshell, is how Maas became a “mega-commuter,” often defined as someone who spends 90 minutes or more on a one-way trip to work.

His morning starts with a drive to the nearby park-and-ride, where he catches the bus to the Sumner train station. From there, he takes the Sounder to King Street Station in Seattle, where he hops on a shuttle to his job at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the city’s Sodo industrial district.

Elapsed time: 1 hour, 45 minutes. Back in Omaha, his commute was just 20 minutes.

“It’s been an adjustment,” he said.

Census data show that a lot more of us are making such adjustments these days.

In 2015, about 57,000 people in the Seattle area endured commutes of at least 90 minutes from home to work, a jump of nearly 24,000 since 2010. That equals a 72 percent increase in just five years, ranking Seattle third among the 50 largest U.S. metros for the rate of growth for mega-commuters.

Who ranks ahead of us? Not surprisingly, two other metros where sky-high home prices have folks moving to increasingly far-flung places: San Francisco and San Jose, California.

The rise of…

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