10 Best Cities for Commuters - Slide Show
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10 Best Cities for Commuters

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If the daily slog through rush-hour gridlock is wearing through your tires, your psyche and your pocketbook, consider our list of the ten American cities with the easiest, most affordable commutes. To make the cut, our cities all have a metro population of at least 1 million and a low congestion cost (a measurement of wasted time and fuel calculated by the Texas Transportation Institute). We also factored in the average length of commute, local gas prices, yearly delays per commuter, and public transit use.
Our winners have some shared characteristics. Their congestion costs all fall below $550 per person
(the national average is $808). Some have seen massive
population declines, clearing out roadways built for heavy travel.
Others take advantage of excellent road networks,
and lots of urban parking lots. All have some of the happiest,
least-stressed urban commuters in the country.

NATIONAL AVERAGES:
Average Commute Time: 25 minutes Yearly Congestion Cost per Commuter: $808
Average Length of Commute: 11.79 miles
Cost of Regular Gas: $3.23 per gallon
Yearly Delays per Commuter: 34 hours
Yearly Fuel Wasted per Commuter: 28 gallons
Public Transit Users: 5%


By Susannah Snider
March 2011
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10. Hartford Conn.

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Population: 1,195,998
Average Commute Time: 22.6
Yearly Congestion Cost per Commuter: $541
Average Length of Commute: 13.92 miles
Cost of Regular Gas: $3.38
Yearly Delays per Commuter: 24 hours
Yearly Fuel Wasted per Commuter: 21 gallons
Public Transit Users: 3.3%

Hartford edges out Sacramento for the last spot on our list of easy, affordable commutes. The city offers a free downtown circulator bus service called the Star Shuttle. There are 45 parking garages downtown, some of which are free, and lots of on–street parking.
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9. Louisville, Ky.

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Population: 1,258,577
Average Commute Time: 23.0
Yearly Congestion Cost per Commuter: $521
Average Length of Commute: 10.62 miles
Cost of Regular Gas: $3.27
Yearly Delays per Commuter: 22 hours
Yearly Fuel Wasted per Commuter: 19 gallons
Public Transit Users: 2.8%

At the intersection of the Watterson (I-264) and Gene Snyder (I-265) highways, Louisville offers 13 city-owned downtown parking garages and six lots. Commuters can buy monthly parking permits or use prepaid parking meter smart cards, which refund the
minutes you don’t use. Commutes are shorter, congestion is low.
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8. Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.

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Population: 2,067,585
Average Commute Time: 22.6
Yearly Congestion Cost per Commuter: $498
Average Length of Commute: 9.16 miles
Cost of Regular Gas: $3.04
Yearly Delays per Commuter: 21 hours
Yearly Fuel Wasted per Commuter: 20 gallons
Public Transit Users: 1.7%

Most Kansas City commuters drive, taking advantage of the city’s flat, expansive highway system. Downtown features easy access from I-70, I-35 and U.S. 71 roadways. Parking is abundant, with nearly 22,000 parking spots downtown. Prices vary, but many spots are free (for a max of three hours). Gas is cheap here, too, relative to the rest of the country.
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7. Cincinnati Ohio-Ky.-Ind.

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Population: 2,171,896
Average Commute Time: 23.7
Yearly Congestion Cost per Commuter: $451
Average Length of Commute: 10.52 miles
Cost of Regular Gas: $3.28
Yearly Delays per Commuter: 19 hours
Yearly Fuel Wasted per Commuter: 15 gallons
Public Transit Users: 3.2%

Cincinnati’s metro population of more than 2 million (the largest on our list) hardly clogs up the roads. 3.2% of the city’s residents use public transit, which includes two bus services: The city-owned METRO and Kentucky’s TANK service. Cincinnati also plans to add a streetcar to the mix, a major project
which seeks to replicate transit
systems in Atlanta and Seattle.
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10 Best Cities for Commuters - Slide Show | Slide 6 of 11

6. Cleveland, Ohio

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Population: 2,091,286
Average Commute Time 23.9
Yearly Congestion Cost per Commuter: $423
Average Length of Commute: 10.81 miles
Cost of Regular Gas: $3.27
Yearly Delays per Commuter: 19 hours
Yearly Fuel Wasted per Commuter: 16 gallons
Public Transit Users: 4.8%

Cleveland boasts the highest rate of public transit users on our list, with 4.8% of its residents taking advantage of the city’s buses and trolleys. In October, the city opened its $9.6 million Stephanie Tubbs Jones Transit Center, a downtown bus hub. Population losses have made its heavy-duty highway system a boon for commuters.
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5. Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.

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Population: 1,123,804
Average Commute Time: 20.8
Yearly Congestion Cost per Commuter: $417
Average Length of Commute: 8.15 miles
Cost of Regular Gas: $3.38
Yearly Delays per Commuter: 17 hours
Yearly Fuel Wasted per Commuter: 16 gallons
Public Transit Users: 4.1%

Snow happens in Buffalo. But congestion hardly does. The 1.4-mile, 110-foot-tall Skyway offers a fast journey from South Buffalo to downtown (although ice sometimes makes it impassable). Buffalo’s population has halved in the past 60 years. The
double-edged result is easy driving for those who remain.
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10 Best Cities for Commuters - Slide Show | Slide 8 of 11

4. Richmond, Va.

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Population: 1,238,187
Average Commute Time: 24.5
Yearly Congestion Cost per Commuter: $411
Average Length of Commute: 12.31 miles
Cost of Regular Gas: $3.08
Yearly Delays per Commuter: 19 hours
Yearly Fuel Wasted per Commuter: 16 gallons
Public Transit Users: 2.3%

Richmond is easily traveled by car, with several major highways feeding right through the center of the city. Average temperatures rarely dip below freezing, giving Richmond the perfect commuting weather. The nightmare congestion of I-95 around Washington, D.C., 120 miles to the north is far, far away. Gas prices are lower than the national average, too.
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3. Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, R.I.-Mass.

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Population: 1,600,642
Average Commute Time: 23.9
Yearly Congestion Cost per Commuter: $406
Average Length of Commute: 11.62 miles
Cost of Regular Gas: $3.26
Yearly Delays per Commuter: 19 hours
Yearly Fuel Wasted per Commuter: 15 gallons
Public Transit Users 2.9%

Located at the crux of I-95 and I-195, the capital of the Ocean State boasts convenient highway access. In addition to 40 parking garages, the city has more than 1,000 on-street parking spaces that charge about $1 per hour. Yearly fuel wasted here is almost half the national average.
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10 Best Cities for Commuters - Slide Show | Slide 10 of 11

2. Columbus, Ohio

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Population: 1,801,848
Average Commute Time: 22.8
Yearly Congestion Cost per Commuter: $388
Average Length of Commute: 12.30 miles
Cost of Regular Gas: $3.28
Yearly Delays per Commuter: 17 hours
Yearly Fuel Wasted per Commuter: 15 gallons
Public Transit Users: 2.2%

What else can you expect from a city whose mayor, Michael B. Coleman, is nicknamed “Bikin’ Mike”? Columbus supports a bike-friendly commuter culture while pouring money into its roadways. Over the past several years, the city has teamed up with the Ohio Department of Transportation to improve safety and conditions on its I-70/71 corridor.
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10 Best Cities for Commuters - Slide Show | Slide 11 of 11

1. Rochester, N.Y.

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Population: 1,035,566
Average Commute Time: 18.7
Yearly Congestion Cost per Commuter: $273
Cost of Regular Gas: $3.38
Average Length of Commute: 10.23 miles
Yearly Delays per Commuter: 12 hours
Yearly Fuel Wasted per Commuter: 11 gallons
Public Transit Users: 2.9%

Our easiest city for commuters boasts an annual congestion cost that is $100 less than our runner-up. Residents spend a mere 19 minutes on average commuting to work, compared with a national average of 25 minutes. A Roc-City commuter’s chief challenge is the snowfall, which averages about 100 inches annually. But local drivers are snow pros: It’s
not uncommon to see homemade plows clearing
alley ways and driveways after a particularly heavy fall.
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