Metropolitan areas vary widely in employment distribution and labour accessibility. Comparing four US metropolitan areas-Atlanta, Boston, Phoenix and Washington, DC-it is found that Atlanta and Washington, DC suffer from low labour accessibility compared with Boston and Phoenix. Moreover, large suburban employment centres in Atlanta and Washington, DC suffer from even lower accessibility than other employment centres within the same metropolitan areas or their counterparts in Boston and Phoenix. Their low labour accessibility is mainly explained by slower commuting speeds. Even though their residential and employment densities are modest, congestion in these employment centres is severe enough to undermine accessibility. The results raise questions about the effectiveness of creating large sub-centres in metropolitan areas, particularly creating auto-oriented edge-city-style employment centres at highway nodes.
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