"Marchetti’s Constant, as those 60 minutes are known, is usually understood to describe what people will endure, not what they might actually desire. But if you take the richest people of any era—who can afford to design their lives however they like—and calculate the transit time between their home and workplace, what do you find? J. P. Morgan: a roughly 25-minute ride by horse-drawn cab. John D. Rockefeller: an elevated-rail ride of about 30 minutes.
In a 2001 paper, two researchers at UC Davis attempted to divine the ideal commute time. They settled on 16 minutes. To be sure, this was a substantial shortening of the study participants’ actual commutes (which were half an hour, on average). But it was not zero. In fact, a few wished for a longer commute. Asked why, they ticked off their reasons—the feeling of control in one’s own car; the time to plan, to decompress, to make calls, to listen to audiobooks. Clearly, the researchers wrote, the commute had some “positive utility.”"