The worst and best car commutes

How does your commute compare to others? Is your city among the worst commutes in the nation? Or are you fortunate to live in a place where the trip to work is a breeze?

An analysis of commuting costs and trends by TheStreet and Bundle set out to determine not only what people throughout the U.S. spend each year for transportation, but what cities are the worst off in terms of expenses.

The study by shows worst and best commutes:

The Worst

The worst rush hour commutes. In order, they were New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta and Houston. Dallas had the unfortunate distinction of having one of the nation’s longest average commutes (with a combined 52,077 miles a year travelled by its rush hour commuters), as well as costly auto expenses ($400) and a high rate of hours delayed (53).

 The freeways with the “slowest typical rush hour” were:

  • New York City at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel northbound
  • New York City at the George Washington Bridge eastbound
  • Philadelphia at US-202 southbound
  • New York City at the George Washington Bridge westbound
  • Los Angeles at Interstate 10 eastbound
  • Boston at U.S. 1 northbound
  • Dallas at State Route 366 eastbound

Residents of Washington, D.C., wasted the most time stuck in traffic, with an average of 62 hours of delays each year during peak commutes. Other cities suffering from stop-and-go syndrome were Atlanta (57 hours of delays), Houston (56), San Francisco (55), Dallas (53), Orlando (53), San Jose (52), San Diego (52) and Detroit (52).

Interesting to note, however, that there isn’t an American city that ranks among the worst cities in the world for commuting.

Residents of Beijing, China can officially say that their city has the worst commute in the world, according to a new study.

In the IBM study, which polled 8,192 motorists in 20 international cities on five continents about their “global commuter pain,” traffic has gotten worse in the past three years, reported participants.

Researchers developed an index that factors in commuting time, time stuck in traffic, price of gas, if traffic has gotten better or worse, stress levels and affect on work.

The Top 10 cities with the worst commute in the world:

  1. Beijing (99)
  2. Mexico City (99)
  3. Johannesburg (97)
  4. Moscow (84)
  5. New Delhi (81)
  6. Sao Paolo (75)
  7. Milan (52)
  8. Buenos Aires (50)
  9. Madrid (48)
  10. London (36)

 The Best

The U.S. cities that emerged as the least expensive and relatively free of transportation trouble included: Eugene, Ore.; Brownsville, Texas; Toledo, Ohio; Laredo, Texas; Anchorage, Alaska; Spokane, Wash.; Beaumont, Texas; Boulder, Colo; Akron, Ohio; and Buffalo, N.Y. Boulder was “best” among the 90 markets surveyed, in large part because it had fewer commuters traveling fewer miles during their commute as compared with other cities. Brownsville followed close behind in both categories

 However, commute time and cost is only part of the picture.

The various expenses for keeping a car on the road also add up significantly during the course of a year. In averaging 12 months of data for such items as toll and bridge fees, supplies and new auto parts, tires, parking lot fees, garages, auto body and repair shops, car washes and towing services, Bundle found Austin, TX and Bridgeport, CT drivers expend an average of $509 and $529 a month on these expenses, respectively. Car owners in Phoenix ($440), Dallas ($400), San Jose ($401) and Hartford ($401) also pay more than most of the country in these costs.

This category may be one area in which large city drivers seem to get a break: New Yorkers averaged only $137 a month and Philadelphia’s commuters just a bit more — $156 on average each month. The prevalence of public transportation and each city’s relative walkability are among the factors that may have driven down costs when spread among the population.

 Center for Neighborhood Technology is studying the cost of transportation as part of overall quality of life. CNT says:

  • Housing plus transportation costs give a more complete assessment of affordability than housing costs alone.
  • Transportation costs are driven more by neighborhood characteristics than by the number of people in a household or their income.
  • Places with access to services, walkable destinations, extensive and frequent transit, access to jobs, and density have lower household transportation costs.
  • Creating neighborhoods with housing and transportation affordability requires multiple and targeted strategies and coordination within and across government agencies and the private sector.

About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group ( Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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One Response to The worst and best car commutes

  1. Pingback: CNT Press Mentions December 2010 : Center for Neighborhood Technology

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