How Long Is Your Daily Commute? See How 30 U.S. Cities Compare

Go west, young friend–for shorter commute times.

New Yorkers have the longest daily commutes. Bostonians are most likely to walk to work. And, people from Louisville drive alone most often.


These are some of the results of an analysis of commuting habits by Michael Sivak, a professor at the University of Michigan. In general, across the U.S., there’s a wide variety in how we travel to the workplace, reflecting both cultural differences and access to public transit.

Sivak’s study is based on 2013 data from the American Community Survey. And it shows how bad things are for New Yorkers. Among 30 large cities, the average commute time is 26 minutes, but New Yorkers take an average of 40 minutes. People in Oklahoma City require only 21 minutes to get to work.

More than half of New Yorkers (56.7%) take public transit, while just 26% drive alone or join a carpool. Memphis has the highest rate of carpooling (12.4%) and only 2.2% people there take a bus, train, or ferry to work.

On the other hand, fully 10% of New Yorkers walk to work, which is a mighty privilege. Bostonians have it even better: almost 15% never have to enter a train or car. At the same time, 1.9% cycle in that city, which compares to 5.9% of Portlanders (Oregon) and just 0.1% of El Paso, Texas, residents.

At the same time, increasing numbers of people never leave home at all: 4.4% of the sample. The highest numbers are in Austin, Texas and Portland, at 7.1%, with the lowest rates in Memphis (2.1%) and Louisville (2.4%).

The research could impact the happiness of people in different places, with longer commutes generally leading to less contentment. At the same time, walking or biking to work has been shown to improve wellbeing.


About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.