Researched and produced by Nathan Brooker. Data visualisation by Alan Smith. Animation by Russell Birkett. Edited by Josh de la Mare. Video from Getty.
Is your commute worth it? If you have a longer commute, you may benefit from a cheaper house and access to better schools. But is it really worth the drudgery? Let's redraw the maps of six world cities to get a sense of what it's like for commuters to show how long a journey feels rather than how far it is on the map. This global index of commuting pain takes a central point in each city and maps out the travel options to popular commuting areas.
Time travelled, its cost, and punctuality are all combined into a single measure. Let's call that drag. So if you work on Wall Street and you live out on Long Island, the drag of commuting would be this long. You'd also expect to pay $245 per square foot for your house. Come a little closer to the office to Manhasset, and you'll likely pay $626 per square foot. Live in the Financial District around the corner from the office, and a single square foot of real estate will cost you $1,980.
But what if you lived in Brighton in England? On this same scale, your house might cost you $578 per square foot. But the cost of commuting to the city of London, added to the time travelled, and train punctuality, I mean, the drag feels much worse than commuting from Long Island. In fact, when you compare the commute of different cities around the world, London doesn't fare well.
Tokyo and Shanghai do much better, having journeys with much less drag. London's cost of housing and commuting are relatively high. But when you have bad delays due to industrial disputes like that and southern rail, commuters' lives can be severely affected. Keeping travel costs down and the level of service up will be crucial to London's future.