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The 5 best and 5 worst cities for work commutes

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By Gael F. Cooper, Money Talks News

Most of us have to commute. A lucky few can work from home and just stagger downstairs to the couch, but for the rest of us, it’s cars, or trains, or buses, or bikes, or feet, or some other way of weaving through traffic and battling weather, construction and the million other little headaches that come with getting to work on time.

How that daily trek goes can make a real difference in our quality of life, which is why real-estate website realtor.com did an analysis of average commute times, traffic congestion, and road and bridge conditions in the 150 largest U.S. metro areas to determine the best and worst cities for commuters.

No. 1 best: Eugene, Oregon

© Sean Pavone

Average commute time: 19.9 minutes

Eugene, home of the University of Oregon, earns straight A’s for its commute. Out of the country’s 150 largest metros, only three have shorter daily travel times. Only 10 American metros have less congestion. And, at 7 percent, its rate of bike-commuting is nearly double the national rate.

No. 2 best: Corpus Christi, Texas

© Roschetzky Photography

Average commute time: 20.4 minutes

Coastal Corpus Christi features an average commute time of just 20 minutes. And traffic jokes don’t make much sense to locals, who spend only 6.4 hours annually stuck in congestion. (That might sound like a lot now, but wait until you find out how much time commuters in the worst commuting cities sit twiddling their thumbs in traffic.)

No. 3 best: Wichita, Kansas

© KSwinick

Average commute time: 19.4 minutes

Wichita has the third-lowest levels of traffic congestion in the nation, with an average commute time of just 19 minutes. Prefer two wheels to four? The city has added around 40 miles of dedicated bikeways over the past four years, realtor.com reports.

No. 4 best: Reno, Nevada

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Average commute time: 21.4 minutes

If you feel like gambling on a life in Reno, you’ll spend only 11 hours stuck in traffic congestion per year, half that of its big-city Nevada cousin, Las Vegas. Nearly 8 people million ride the region’s bus system annually, and nearly 70 percent of the roads are rated in good or fair condition.

No. 5 best: Brownsville, Texas

© Roberto Galan

Average commute time: 20.1 minutes

Brownsville, which sits on the U.S.-Mexico border, lands in fifth place among the 150 largest metro areas for its commute time. Drivers are safe on roads here, too: In 2018, Allstate named Brownsville first on its “America’s Best Drivers Report,” reporting that the average driver goes 13.6 years between car insurance claims.

The five previous cities topped the charts for civilized commuting times, but you can still gloat if you live in Provo, Utah; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Huntsville, Alabama; Tallahassee, Florida; or Augusta, Georgia. Those cities were the next runners-up on the realtor.com rankings.

But at the other end of the spectrum, what follows are some cities that are just plain miserable for commuters. Let’s start with the fifth-worst and work up to the gnarliest:

No. 5 worst: Boston, Massachusetts

© mandritoiu

Average commute time: 30.6 minutes

Boston is a tangle for commuters. Not only that, but Boston drivers are more likely than those in any other American city to file a car insurance claim, according to Allstate’s 2018 America’s Best Drivers Report, making a claim every 3.9 years, on average. With all those accidents, it’s a good thing Boston has so many great hospitals.

No. 4 worst: San Francisco, California

© Pius Lee

Average commute time: 32.1 minutes

Sure, leave your heart in San Francisco, but leave your car keys at home. The Bay Area’s infrastructure has been severely tested by a surging population. As a result, drivers here spend on average about 83 hours per year in standstill traffic.

No. 3 worst: Washington, D.C.

© f11photo

Average commute time: 34.4 minutes

Just 1 percent of the roads in our nation’s capital are listed in good or fair condition, realtor.com found. And while companies in tech-friendly cities such as Seattle may grant employees flexible schedules or work-at-home privileges, realtor.com finds that D.C. bosses want employees working in the office, forcing into strict rush-hour schedules.

No. 2 worst: Los Angeles, California

© ESB Professional

Average commute time: 29.6 minutes

The band Missing Persons once sang, “Nobody walks in L.A.” And it’s true: Of all our car-dependent cities, the sprawling City of Angels hovers near the top of this list. Its famous freeways are often at a standstill, and the average Angeleno spends more than 104 hours per year in congestion, the highest figure in the nation.

No. 1 worst: New York, New York

© Valerii Iavtushenko

Average commute time: 35.9 minutes

No one’s surprised that New York City tops the list, right? Despite the massive subway system, Long Island Rail Road and other options, commuters still spend nearly 90 hours in traffic congestion annually. Realtor.com points out that the average speed driving through midtown Manhattan is less than 5 mph, and that, “in the worst traffic, it can take 15 minutes to cross a single avenue.” Still, if you can make it to work here, you can make it anywhere.

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