Morning Buzzkill: The 5 Worst Commutes in the United States

In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau found the average commuter spends more than 26 minutes to get to work. Nationally, traffic isn’t just a time-suck, it’s a financial suck, too. Commuting and its surrounding costs like drive time, parking, gas, and the toll on your health, equated to Americans spending $87 billion in 2018—that’s almost $1,348 per driver. Talk about a serious buzzkill.

By the numbers. Keep reading for more about the worst commutes in the United States.

New York, NY:

Everyone loves New York. Driving in New York? Not so much. While many of the inhabitants of the five boroughs take advantage of the ubiquitous subway, some people have been squeezed out to the suburbs in search of more affordable housing, thus forcing them to commute by car. On average, New Yorkers spend 3.79 days a year stuck in traffic. (You could listen to your entire 150 vinyl collection in that time.) Even if they do ride public transit, they spend an average of 87 minutes per day stuck on the train, and 88% of those riders are on the train for over 2 hours.

San Francisco, CA:

Come for the coastal vibes, just don’t stay for the traffic. In the Bay Area, the concentration of jobs in San Francisco forces commuters to drive or take public transit north, south, or west into the 7×7 mile city. Because of this, drivers in the Bay Area can spend upwards of 60 minutes or more traveling to and from work each way. If you’re lucky enough to ride BART (Bay Area Public Rapid Transit) expect it to be decidedly not rapid. Most commuters spend over 77 minutes per day commuting on the train, despite recent efforts to expand rider capacity.

Chicago, IL:

Home of the deep dish, Chicago Cubs, Da Bears and some of the coldest, longest commutes ever. The problem with Chicago? The city has grown and sprawled over the decades and the rail system, built in the 1890s, is predictably unpredictable. Wait times on the station platform average 15 minutes, and over 22% of riders spend more than 20 minutes waiting. Not only that, transit riders spend over 86 minutes riding per day and 86% of them spend more than two hours sitting on the train getting to work.

Washington D.C:

Unfortunately, even our nation’s capital is not immune to congestion. In the last few decades, urban and suburban sprawl have contributed to bottlenecks throughout the freeway arteries that all head into the capital. Commuters spend over 3 full days per year in traffic, while public transit riders spend 86 minutes on trains and buses, and 87% of those riders sit on public transit for more than 2 hours a day. That’s 60 hours a month just… sitting.

Boston, MA:

Boston tried to combat their traffic problems with the Big Dig (an attempt to alleviate one of the most congested highways in the U.S. dubbed the Central Artery), but drivers here lost 6.8 days (that’s a nice vacation!) in rush-hour congestion on average. If you’re a public transit rider, you haven’t escaped long commutes. Expect to spend 83 minutes per day commuting to and from work on the train.

Boosted is on a mission to rethink the way you get there. If you don’t want to spend your life in traffic you should, too! Visit us.


  1. “Where Commuting Is Out of Control – CityLab.” 25 Apr. 2018, Accessed 18 Apr. 2019.
  2. “Moovit: Your Public Transit Guide.” Accessed 21 Apr. 2019.