Washington County commuter tidbits

March 17, 2003

Destination: Zimbabwe

The Eastern Shore of Maryland; Essex County, N.J.; Shelby County, Tenn.; Johnson County, Iowa; Zimbabwe.

These are some of the places the U.S. Census Bureau listed as workplaces for Washington County commuters in 2000.

That's because the actual question on the Census 2000 long form was, "At what location did this person work last week?" said Clara Reschovsky, a demographer with the Journey-to-Work branch of the Census Bureau's Population Division. The question applied to the last week in March 2000.

Some people were probably taking business trips or were military personnel on the job, Reschovsky said.

That would also help explain the 20 Frederick County residents working in Indonesia and the seven at sea, the six Franklin County residents in Korea, the 13 Jefferson County residents working in Rwanda and the six in Azerbaijan.

Long form data

The county-to-county commuting data are actually estimates based on the limited number of long forms sent out, said Census 2000 demographer Clara Reschovsky.


Nationwide, the long forms were sent to one of every six households, Reschovsky said.

The ratio varies based on population density. In rural areas, about one of every two households received a long form, whereas in urban areas approximately one of every eight households got the long form, she said.

30 minutes or less?

John Jones spends 75 minutes commuting from Carlisle, Pa., to Hagerstown to teach digital communications at Washington County Technical High School.

That's more time than most Washington Countians spent getting to work in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Of the 58,589 Washington County workers 16 years or older that year, 5,424 spent an hour or more getting to work.

Most workers in the county, 41,121, took less than 30 minutes to get to work.

Enjoying the ride

Of the 284,453 Tri-State area workers in 2000, 234,704 drove alone to work, according to Census 2000.

More than a third of Tri-State area workers, 108,357 workers, spent 30 minutes or more getting to work.

While many people believe long commutes can be stressful situations, urban social geographer Charles Christian said many people enjoy commuting.

Christian is a professor of urban and social geography at the University of Maryland College Park who often gets interviewed for Census stories.

He also is a commuter who enjoys the commute, alone.

Christian said he listens to music during his 30-minute to 1-hour drive from Baltimore to College Park.

More likely, he is organizing his thoughts for work that day, he said.

He does this by jotting notes on a pad on his dashboard or a pad on the armrest. Christian said he's thinking about buying a tape recorder he can hang around his neck while driving.

How we get there

Three Franklin County, Pa., workers took the train to work in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In Washington County, 154 workers rode the railroad to work.

Trains were a more popular option in Frederick County, Md., (521 workers) and Jefferson County, W.Va. (466 workers).

That's probably because the MARC train stops in Martinsburg, W.Va., Duffield's and Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County, and Brunswick, Md., in Frederick County. Amtrak stops in Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry.

Cars, trucks, sports utility vehicles and vans were the mode of transportation for 56,023 of 60,597 Washington County workers in 2000. Another 2,008 county workers simply walked from their bedroom to their in-home office for work.

Seven Franklin County residents rode a ferryboat to work.

Bicycle was the mode of transportation chosen by 102 Franklin County commuters and 137 Frederick County commuters.

Four hundred and fifty Tri-State area workers took a taxicab to work. Almost 7,000 Tri-State area workers walked to work in 2000.

Other options listed on the Census survey were motorcycle, subway, bus or streetcar.

Yet, 1,863 Tri-State area workers chose to select "other" as their mode of getting to work.

You guess. An airplane? A unicycle? Hang glider?

The Herald-Mail Articles