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Iowans enjoy relatively short commutes to work

DES MOINES (AP) — Roughly 80 percent of Iowa workers enjoy a work commute that’s shorter than 30 minutes, a far cry from commuters nationwide who regularly endure longer treks.

The Des Moines Register reported new U.S. Census data shows that Iowans fare better than the national average commute of 25 minutes each way.

In Des Moines, a typical commute is 16 minutes. And in Ames, Dubuque and Sioux City roughly half the workers enjoy a commute less than 15 minutes long.

But that doesn’t mean some Iowans don’t drive farther for work.

Jill Nowadzky says she drives 40 miles each day from Pleasantville to West Des Moines because she likes her job as a legal assistant at UnityPoint Health. But she hates the commute.

“I used to like going on road trips, but now I don’t want to even be in the car anymore,” Nowadzky said.

Other long-distance commuters also dread the trip. But Annette Hacker says she tries to make productive use of her 45-minute commute from Pleasant Hill to Ames, where she works for Iowa State University.

“I have my hands-free cellphone,” said Hacker, 45. “It can be a productive time if you want it to be. I listen to music, too.”

Hacker said carpooling really isn’t an option for her because her hours are unpredictable.

Only about 1 percent of Iowa commuters regularly use public transportation. Nationally, the average is about 5 percent.

Iowa State University economist David Swenson said he doesn’t think gas prices have climbed high enough to force most commuters to change their habits.

Paul Stigers has tried to make his commute from Des Moines to Ames more economical by buying a small diesel-powered car that gets 40 miles per gallon. But the driving still wears on the 52-year-old.

“It’s good for gathering your thoughts for the day. But in my opinion, that’s the only good thing,” he said. “Commuting is getting very old to me.”

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