Computing the commute

Computing the commute, Minneapolis Star Tribune May 1, 2006
Every so often the newspaper (here the Star Tribune) rediscovers urban economics (people are trading off time for space). As gas (or other) prices change, people’s utilities change, and they reassess where they want to be on the curve. The newspaper always focuses on the extreme person with the 60 or 90 minute (one-way) commute instead of the normal person with a 22 minute commute, giving a misleading perception of the problem.
The problem is not people having long commutes in exchange for more real estate, that is (presumably) rational behavior on their part given their preferences. The problem is the system that subsidizes those trips by not charging users for the full cost of the trip or developers for the impact they are imposing. We need some way of paying for the fixed costs of roads as well as their variable costs that is fair.