2,000+ Super-commuters trek from LV to NYC for work
They are the so-called 'super commuters': People schlepping more than 90 minutes or 90 miles each way to work. Research shows 59,000 workers commute into the Big Apple to earn a living, and more than 2,000 of them make the trek from the Lehigh Valley area.
Everyone has their own reason for making the monster voyage. We took a look at the toll it takes on one local family.
For Rob and Cristin Brotzman, spending time as a family is very important. But days spent lounging around the house with the kids are few and far between. Most days the 33-year-old father of two leaves before dark and gets home after sunset.
"Up to 20 hours of my week are spent in the car," said Rob. "You know, on top of a 40-50-hour work week."
Five days a week Rob rises around 6 a.m. Cristin takes care of two-year-old Tara and 17-month-old Lara while he gets ready for work. Then he hits the road.
On a good day, the drive takes about two hours each way from Allentown to Secaucus, New Jersey, where Rob is a Video Engineer for the MLB Network. It's turned Rob into a living GPS--he knows where the traffic backs up and what times are best to hit the road. Luckily his work schedule is flexible.
"A lot of times when I have to be there earlier I actually have to allow more time because traffic is heaviest on I-78 in N.J. usually between 6:30 and 8:30 [a.m.]," he said.
The marathon drive costs Rob about $400 a month in gas. And maintenance and tune-ups are non-negotiable.
"It does get tiring after a while," shared Rob. "Especially when you're doing it day after day after day, it's kind of a stress factor that you add on top of everything else."
He says he does it for his family. The Brotzman's three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bathroom Allentown house would be priced out of their budget if they lived closer to Rob's job.
"We really enjoy having all of our families around," added Cristin. "His family in Nazareth, mine down in Quakertown, our whole community around the area."
"Financially it really just makes a lot more sense for us to stay where we are here in the Lehigh Valley and do the commute," explained Rob.
Rob's salary is more than he could make in the Lehigh Valley, and it allows Cristin to stay home with the girls. But there is a trade off. Sometimes Cristin feels like a single parent.
"If he's not getting home until 9 o'clock they're both in bed, so I'm doing bath routines at night, I'm doing bedtime routines," said Cristin. "So it is pretty much doing all the work myself."
She says it's exhausting. But the hours Rob spends on the road away from his family is the hardest thing about the time-gobbling commute for both of them. He misses out on a lot.
"It's not so much right now," shared Rob. "But it's more kind of looking ahead, the things to come that I will be missing in the next couple years."
"If they're in sports is he going to miss important games, you know, what are the kids going to think," added Cristin.
For now the set up is good, and both husband and wife agree the trade off is worth it.
"It's hard," said Rob. "It wears on you after a while, you miss out on just a lot of time with your kids and stuff like that, but I think it's worth it in the long run."
Whether they drive, take the bus or hop on a train, according to research most 'super commuters' are middle class workers, who tend to be under the age of 29.
They make the journey because they want more space and cheaper housing while still bringing in a New York salary, which is often double what they could make around here.
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