The trip to work in Chicago’s metro area averages 31 minutes

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A worker commutes an average of 31 minutes to work in the Chicago area. | Sun-Times file photo

People in Chicago’s metro area spend an average of 31 minutes commuting to work.

That’s a slower commute than the national average of 26 minutes.

But 11.8 percent of commuters here take public transportation. And that’s higher than the national average of 5.2 percent.

Those numbers — stats reflective of the “Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI” metro area — appear in a new Associated Press report on commuting in America.

RELATED: Fear of longer commutes puts pressure on US cities to act

Transportation experts warn that increases in population and freight volume could lead to daily traffic jams the likes of which we only see now on major holidays.

“If we don’t change, in 2045, the transportation system that powered our rise as a nation will instead slow us down,” the Department of Transportation said in a report earlier this year titled, “Beyond Traffic.”

In Chicago’s metro area, 71.1 percent of commuters drive and 8 percent carpool, the AP reported.

Joe Schwieterman, director of DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, said the Chicago area has been “notoriously slow” in using tolls on local expressways to change drivers’ behavior.

For example, toll prices could be increased during peak travel times in an effort to dissuade motorists from using the expressways unnecessarily during rush hour.

The Chicago area could most easily boost its public transportation options, Schwieterman said, by increasing the frequency of its trains and buses and by “getting in the game for express bus service in a big way.”

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