Understanding Houston: How a business manager navigates his multi-county commute in Houston


This is a part of a series connected to our partnership with the Greater Houston Community Foundation's regional project Understanding Houston. This story, and others in the series, also appears on the Understanding Houston website.

US-59 towards downtown Houston

This is a part of a series connected to our partnership with the Greater Houston Community Foundation's regional project Understanding Houston. This story, and others in the series, also appears on the Understanding Houston website.

As a six-year Houston resident, Ryan Stough has become all too familiar with one of Houston’s biggest headaches: long commutes.

As a Pearland resident, Ryan’s job as a general manager at a Houston-area Mister Car Wash Lube Center requires him to commute across two counties each day. And without access to any METRO public transportation from his community, he’s forced to rely solely on his car to complete his daily commute.

“When we bought the house, we didn’t really think about the commute,” Stough said. “I told my wife to pick an area she liked that was close to her teaching job because my job location is never secure. One day they might have me at one location for six months and the next day I will be at another.”

In the past three years, Stough’s work location has moved from Humble to Kirby and US-59/I-69 to the Sugar Land area. Currently, he’s commuting from Pearland, which is in Brazoria County, to the Sugar Land location, which is in Fort Bend County. Before moving to the Sugar Land location, he was traveling into Harris County to work off of US-59/I-69 and Kirby.

“I leave at 5:45 a.m. and it takes about 30 to 35 minutes. If I leave a minute after 6 — and I mean a minute after 6 — then there’s a lot of traffic,” Stough said of his more than 25-mile commute to Sugar Land. “It’s a little better when teachers are on their summer break. But coming back from the Kirby location, it would take me 45 to 50 minutes.”

Stough currently drives his Toyota Tacoma and spends about $120 per month just on gas, but he’s working on repairing his Honda Civic, which would cut his gas bill in half. His wife, Tabitha, also has a vehicle of her own.

Overall, Stough has come to accept his commute across two Houston-area counties as a part of his life now. “I’m pretty comfortable with the commute,” Stough said. In fact, Stough doesn’t mind his commute so much so that he’s willing to drive further for a higher paying position at the Mister Car Wash location in Humble. “I would make that sacrifice to drive further for much more money,” Stough said.

But he does keep in mind the cost of his time due to his commute. “I would say the only negative to my commute is the time away from my family because I already work long days and my commute is 30 minutes each way so that adds an extra hour to my workday,” he said.

Lack of access to public transportation in many Houston-area suburbs contributes to longer commutes for many Houstonians. Visit the Understanding Houston website to learn more about public transportation accessibility in the region.

Heather Leighton
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Houston, TX 77005-1892


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