Stories in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal this week focused on the time Americans take to commute to and from their jobs. In the New York City area a story in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the need for upgrading the Port Authority Bus terminal given that there are more than 6,500 buses each day now going in and out of the facility.
From an article in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal ‘
In 2003, 6,556 buses carrying 133,835 riders came through the Lincoln Tunnel on the average weekday nearly all of them heading to the terminal, according to the RPA.
More than a decade later, ridership was up about 30%, according to the RPA. In 2013, there were 6,905 buses carrying 174,396 riders over the same route on an average day.
The Port Authority expects the terminal’s rush-hour passenger traffic to grow by as much as 51% by 2040.’
More people are commuting than ever before in New York and other large American cities. There are a number of reasons for this but chiefly the reason is that housing affordability is directly correlated to the distance from the city in which you work. The further away you live the more affordable it is to rent or buy a house or apartment.
Commuting in 2015 is vastly different than it was in 2005 before the iPhone and other smartphones became ubiquitous. As recently as 1995 what you did while you were commuting by bus, train, or carpool was much like it was in 1975, or 1955. You chatted with your fellow commuters, read newspapers, magazines, books, or slept. Some people played cards. A few still do.
The top three things people do while commuting – at least as I have observed repeatedly are:
#1 Stare at their smartphone
#2 Read on their tablet
#3 Sleep and listen to music or whatever since I can’t hear it but many have earphones
I notice that fewer people than ever before read actual newspapers or books.. Trains and buses are much quieter than ever before since a majority of the people are involved with their technology – often to the exclusion of what else is going on around them.
Commuting time has also become productive time (if desired as I acknowledge that some people are not interested in being productive while commuting). More significantly people today are able to do many of the same things they do at home while on the move. That’s a huge game changer.
If these trends are not making you even more certain that location based mobile messaging and advertising are ever more relevant marketing actions then you may not have a long career in advertising. In baseball they say ‘hit ‘em where they ain’t’. When it comes to marketing and growing sales it’s ‘hit ‘em where they are’.
Commuters might be served location-based offers on their mobile devices for things that are relevant to the lives of commuters. Offers for cultural events, restaurants, shopping and sporting events anywhere along the commuter line. After all they are ‘there’ twice a day on the commute back and forth. It makes sense to target people who already have experience in traveling to or through your location. People will tell you they don’t want ads but everyone wants an option on a good deal.
The bottom line is that commuting by public transportation is the least boring it’s ever been before. What do you do while you commute?
The only people I see on the train who are reading a book on Kindle are older. Cellphones & tablets seem to be used more for messaging, gaming, or TV-watching. Which makes me wonder about the future of reading, period.
Yes that’s true about Kindle users being older. I had not thought about that. I also share your wonder regarding the future of reading Hallie. I’d take it further and wonder about the future of not being engaged with something – electronic or not – all waking hours. Is idle thinking become a lost pastime?
I’m not sure about idle thinking, Mark. But definitely self-reflection is going out of style. Although we’re in the age when even the nerds look fabulous, the kids seem shallower today. The only ones who impress me are those aligned with religious or traditional institutions.
Very interesting perspective. Thanks Hallie.