The 10 Worst Cities for Commuters

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Commuters sit stopped in rush-hour traffic.

People in search of a new city to live in factor in many issues before pulling the trigger. Weather, housing and utility costs, political climate, and crime rates typically top the list. But before you sign a new lease and hire a moving company, consider the commuting scene in your destination city. The monetary side of the story is only part of it, as the stress and time lost on your daily trek also take tolls on your happiness and general well-being.

Without further ado, we present the 10 worst US cities for commuting:

10. Philadelphia

Visitors to Philadelphia marvel at how easy it is to walk to favorite destinations, but unless you live and work in the heart of downtown, your commute will likely be the worst part of your day. The traffic is bumper-to-bumper during peak commuting hours, and the poor infrastructure on many major routes only compounds the problem.

Hours Lost Per Year Caught in Congestion: 112

Annual Cost Per Driver for Congestion: $1,568

Average Local Gas Price, November 2019: $2.760

Average Monthly Cost for Public Transportation: $93.50

9. Boston, MA

Boston boasts a great selection of neighborhoods to please most anyone’s taste. They have a better-than-average public transportation system, but if your job isn’t downtown, the commute is generally a nightmare. Factor in the high rents — and one-bedroom averages around $3,500 a month — and you might consider another cool city with great chowder and unique bars and pubs.

Hours Lost Per Year Caught in Congestion: 164

Annual Cost Per Driver for Congestion: $2,291

Average Local Gas Price, November 2019: $2.578

Average Monthly Cost for Public Transportation: $84.50

8. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh has been one of the nation’s most up-and-coming cities for the past decade or so. Rents are reasonable, the restaurant scene is booming, and good jobs abound. But many commutes involve Interstate 376, a horrific bottleneck that is nearly unavoidable no matter what suburb you live in. On top of that, the side streets are ill-equipped to handle the overflow, so it can take a crazy long time to get to and from work.

Hours Lost Per Year Caught in Congestion: 127

Annual Cost Per Driver for Congestion: $1,776

Average Local Gas Price, November 2019: $2.832

Average Monthly Cost for Public Transportation: $97.50

7. Portland, OR

Avid bike riders hail Portland as one of the best cities for two-wheel travel. Once you experience the traffic jams there, you may be scoping out bike routes yourself. The road improvements simply haven’t kept pace with the influx of new residents, and that imbalance has created congestion beyond belief.

Hours Lost Per Year Caught in Congestion: 116

Annual Cost Per Driver for Congestion: $1,625

Average Local Gas Price, November 2019: $3.335

Average Monthly Cost for Public Transportation: $100.00

6. Chicago, IL

Wherever you move to in Chicago, make sure your commute doesn’t involve the junction of I-94/I-90 at I-294, one of the most convoluted and congested freeway mergers in the country. The good news is that there are good alternatives such as the CTA trains and busses, as well as rental bikes and well-planned walking routes. But don’t forget the weather, which often takes biking and walking off the table completely.

Hours Lost Per Year Caught in Congestion: 138

Annual Cost Per Driver for Congestion: $1,920

Average Local Gas Price, November 2019: $2.665

Average Monthly Cost for Public Transportation: $105.00

5. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco’s Silicon Valley boom has only made the already-driving-challenged city more difficult to navigate. Regular wage earners use the local trains and monorails, but the high-paid tech employees still tend to travel by car. The resulting daily congestion is horrific, regardless of the gorgeous scenery surrounding drivers.

Hours Lost Per Year Caught in Congestion: 116

Annual Cost Per Driver for Congestion: $1,624

Average Local Gas Price, November 2019: $4.181

Average Monthly Cost for Public Transportation: $98.00

4. New York, NY

The diverse boroughs that make up New York City are a major part of its charm, but when everyone is trying to get to and from work on narrow streets, that charm loses out to loud frustration. Cars and busses compete with taxis and bike messengers, and subway outages and delays only add to the aggravation. Regardless, you can’t deny that NYC has some of the nation’s best parks, restaurants, and retail stores in the US.

Hours Lost Per Year Caught in Congestion: 133

Annual Cost Per Driver for Congestion: $1,859

Average Local Gas Price, November 2019: $2.77

Average Monthly Cost for Public Transportation: $127.00

3. Washington, D.C.

Commuting to Washington, D.C. from Maryland and Northern Virginia isn’t bad if you use the Metrorail and Metrobus, but getting around locally is brutal. A trip that would normally take about 20 minutes frequently takes two hours due to wandering tourists, rush-hour congestion, and fender benders caused by neglectful drivers. Consider suburban living before making a move to the heart of the nation’s capital.

Hours Lost Per Year Caught in Congestion: 155

Annual Cost Per Driver for Congestion: $2,161

Average Local Gas Price, November 2019: $2.656

Average Monthly Cost for Public Transportation: $144.00

2. Seattle, WA

Hikers and seafood lovers find Seattle an ideal city, even with the near-daily rainfall. Their public transportation system is top-notch, with well-executed options including light rail and efficient bus and streetcar lines. It’s those pesky commuters that clog Interstate 5 and the downtown ramps that make it the second worst city in the nation for commuters

Hours Lost Per Year Caught in Congestion: 138

Annual Cost Per Driver for Congestion: $1,932

Average Local Gas Price, November 2019: $3.544

Average Monthly Cost for Public Transportation: $112.50

1. Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles is known for many wonderful things such as its pristine weather, wonderful food, and diverse environments. But the city’s giant infamous flaw is its traffic congestion. The traffic really is unbelievable here, especially during peak commute hours. In fact, the traffic problems are so bad that the city itself lost $9.3 billion in 2018 due to a swell in car wrecks, increased gas usage, and time lost sitting in traffic.

Hours Lost Per Year Caught in Congestion: 128

Annual Cost Per Driver for Congestion: $1,788

Average Local Gas Price, November 2019: $4,128

Average Monthly Cost for Public Transportation: $110.00

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