America’s best (and worst) commuter cities might surprise you

It’s not just travel time, but it’s also about how reachable your city is, and whether or not you’re taking public transit or driving. Geotab breaks it all down.

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What’s your commute like? It depends on where you’re going, and how you’re going there – whether by car, bus, train, or private jet. It also depends on how easy your city is to get into.

Web-based analytics company Geotab mapped and  ranked commute times and patterns across 20 U.S. cities. Geotab used the 2012-2016 CTPP tabulation of the American Community Survey to analyze data from more than 14 million commutes, calculating mean commute times from census tract areas across the U.S. traveling into 20 of the largest cities in the U.S.


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The study revealed that not only are some city’s commutes longer than others – whether by public transit or by car – but some cities are simply more reachable than others. San Diego, for example, was deemed “most reachable” as 72% of commuters are able to reach their destination within 30 minutes. On the other hand, NYC is “least reachable” as only 4% of commuters are able to reach their destination within 30 minutes.

“The stark contrast between how many cities are easily reachable by car versus those that are easily reachable by public transit suggests that there is still some way to go in ensuring that these cities can be accessed in a reasonable amount of time regardless of your mode of transport,” said Maria Sotra, VP of marketing at Geotab, in a release.

Here’s the breakdown.

Longest commute times

New York City has the longest average commute at 43 minutes. Public transit commuters in NYC spend 53 minutes traveling into NYC, and it’s generally a 40-minute car commute. However, Washington, D.C. has the longest car commute, just one minute longer at 41 minutes.

And while it’s not in the top five, Los Angeles has the longest public transit commute at 54 minutes.

Shortest commute times

San Diego and Phoenix have the shortest average commutes at 26 minutes. Minneapolis has the shortest public transit commute at 39 minutes, and San Diego has the shortest commute by car at 26 minutes.

Most reachable cities for commuting

What makes San Diego the most reachable city for a commuter is that 72% of people are able to access the city within 30 minutes on average. (Although this drops quite a bit for public transit users). Minneapolis scores high marks for public transit reachability, with 31% of commuters able to access the city in 30 minutes.

Least reachable cities for commuting

New York City was the least reachable city for commuters, with only 4% of people on average able to access the city in 30 minutes or less. While 28% of commuters can get into the city by car in 30 minutes or less, only 6% of public transit riders can do so.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.