“Increased commute times relate to lower mental health and subjective well-being scores.”
Reliable mass transit / walking and cycling for the win https://t.co/yKbFTqw9Xy
— Bridget Burdett (@DrBridgetB) May 10, 2019
Dr. Bridget Burdett in New Zealand sent along this link to a new article in Science Direct published in the Journal of Transportation and Health. Researchers included Corrine Mulley, one of the editors of “Walking~Connecting Sustainable Transport with Health”.
The study looked at the qualitative experience of over three hundred individuals who relocated to suburban areas without good transit or active transportation links to work centres. Since residential development in outlying areas often arrives before public transportation infrastructure, researchers wanted to assess the health impacts of longer and changing commutes on commuters.
Using multiple regression techniques, researchers had some surprising conclusions. Longer commutes and changing the time needed to leave for commutes was found to be directly related to lower mental health levels and the perception of a decrease in wellbeing. But researchers also found that independent car use and not using public transport was associated with “increased happiness”.
What this suggests is that the quality of the commute is important and that the link between commuting time, mental well being and perception of independence is more layered than anticipated. Dr. Burdett suggests that “reliable mass transit and walking and cycling are needed for the win”.
The pathways between commute time, mental health and subjective wellbeing are complex and embedded in subjective experiences of the commute both past and present. This study hints at the need for good quality mass transit facilities and scheduling to ensure that there is a convenient and reliable experience for longer distance commuters. Future research will address the connection between mental health and commuting, as well as examining what elements of the public transit commute need to improve to keep commuters happier.