5 Best and 5 Worst City Commutes

Most people dread the morning commute to work. Whether you are piling the kids into the minivan to get them to school or stopping for a cup of coffee in your new Tesla, there never seems to be enough time. Throw in an early morning conference, overdue deadlines, and unavoidable traffic jams, and suddenly you are stressed and aggravated before the day even begins.

The Best and the Worst City Commute

That is unless you happen to live in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is the second year the city has been ranked #1 as the best daily commute. Those in Detroit, Michigan, aren’t quite as fortunate as their city was ranked at the bottom of the list for having the worst daily commute.

How Wallet Hub Ranks the Cities

Wallet Hub conducts an annual study of the 100 most populated cities in the United States to determine the best and worst city commutes. Using a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the best conditions and 0 representing the worst conditions, each city was evaluated. The scores were calculated and a weighted average was given to rank-order the selected cities. Factors used to determine their driver-friendly findings include:

  • Access to vehicles and maintenance (10 points) – includes the per capita availability of the number of car dealerships, auto repair shops, car washes, gas stations, parking lots, and parking garages.
  • Infrastructure of the city and its traffic patterns (30 points) – includes the average annual hours spent in congested traffic areas, total number of days with precipitation, number of days that are colder than 32 degrees, average number of minutes to commute by car, overall quality of roads and bridges, availability of alternative-fuel stations, and driver satisfaction ratings received through the Waze Driver app.
  • Overall safety of the roads (30 points) – includes the likelihood of an accident in the city vs. the national average, rate of traffic fatalities, percentage of adults that wear seat belts, and number of hard-braking events that are voluntarily recorded in Allstate’s Drivewise program. Number of uninsured drivers, drivers with high-risk insurance, crime rate that includes car theft and larceny, strictness of DUI violations, and driving laws are also considered.
  • The cost of ownership and maintenance of a vehicle (30 points) – includes the average cost of a new car, gas prices, auto insurance premiums, maintenance costs, and parking rates.

Wallet Hub Annual Study Findings for 2019

5 Best City Commutes in the U.S. 

  1. Raleigh, North Carolina: Earning an impressive #1 on the list is quite an accomplishment. Raleigh can attribute this honor to developing a successful rideshare program to ease traffic congestion. With an overall score of 69.09, the city ranked highest on the list for cost of vehicle ownership and maintenance.
  2. Orlando, Florida: 68 million visitors a year flock to the sunny streets of Orlando. To accommodate all of these travelers, Orlando has a strong infrastructure with traffic that moves at a steady pace. Ranking as the #2 best city commute in the U.S. is a huge success for this busy city.
  3. Lincoln, Nebraska: A good safety rating and low cost of vehicle ownership, lands Lincoln at the #3 spot for best city commutes. More than 13,000 commuters travel the roadways every day with a majority of drivers heading in and out of Omaha. A proposal for a bus line that connects the two cities is being considered. This will make the commute in Lincoln even better.
  4. Tampa, Florida: Tampa Downtown Partnership takes commuting seriously. They have created incentives for downtown employees to receive vehicle subsidies, reduced trolley fares, and emergency taxi rides. They asked commuters to take a pledge to commute to work by utilizing public transportation, carpooling, biking, or walking. All of these efforts helped to earn Tampa the rank of #4 for the best city commute in the U.S.
  5. Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Topping off the list at #5, Winston-Salem received an overall score of 65.02 out of 100. In this city, commuters spend the least amount of time in traffic congestion. They also have a low cost of vehicle ownership and maintenance, helping them to receive the #5 spot on Wallet Hub’s 2019 list.

5 Worst City Commutes in the U.S.

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Looking west, towards @easternmarket.

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  1. Detroit, Michigan: This is the 2nd year that Detroit has ranked at the very bottom of the list, with a total score of only 37.40. Safety, traffic, infrastructure, and cost of vehicle ownership, were the main factors that contributed to the low score.
  2. Oakland, California: High auto theft rates, rising gas prices, traffic-related delays, and car insurance premiums all led to Oakland receiving one of the lowest rankings for worst city commutes in the U.S.
  3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The City of Brotherly Love didn’t receive much love in this study. Philadelphia ranked at #98 on the list due to the high cost of ownership and maintenance, parking rates, safety, and cost of vehicle ownership. Compared to the national average, this city has one of the highest accident rates.
  4. San Francisco, California: The Bay Area is known for having a great public transportation system. However, when it comes to the daily commute, they fell at the bottom of the list once again. With some drivers enduring more than an hour commute, it’s no surprise to see San Francisco ranked so low.
  5. Newark, New Jersey: Congested traffic and poor infrastructure caused Newark to rank as one the worst city commutes. The city received a score of 74 for safety and 73 for cost of vehicle ownership. Looks like Newark has surpassed New York City as one of the worst places to drive.