How to Beat Traffic With Math

May 22, 2010

500x_traffic_top_two.jpg Brandon Hansen posts at on his year-long project to find out if he could speed his commute by analyzing the influence of his departure time, local school schedule, and other factors.

Tired of the typically inefficient and contradictory workplace chatter
on the subject — and feeling the pull of a mild worksheet obsession — I
set out to statistically analyze my commute in order to determine how I
might minimize my time behind the wheel. If there was a way to figure
out how to give myself an advantage over the almost 900,000 other
Houstonian workers out there (each of whom averages a 26.1-minute
commute), math and a smidgeon of obsessive-compulsive disorder had to be
essential ingredients. At the very least, I would be able to ascertain
just how much of my commute time was up to me, and how much depended on a
“higher power” (e.g., weather, school districts, wrecks, etc.).

His conclusion: slightly altering his schedule could save him about 7.5 commuting minutes per day:

The best bet appears to be moving my schedule out a half-hour to 8:30 AM
and 6:00 PM, bringing significant savings (about 7.5 minutes of commute
time per day) without getting too far from normal business hours.
Spread out over 50 work weeks, that results in a total savings of over
30 hours a year — the equivalent of a 38-percent boost to my existing
80 hours of vacation.


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