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America’s Best (and Worst) Commuter Cities

Geotab Study Maps and Ranks Commute Times and Patterns Across 20 Major U.S. Cities

Toronto, Ontario - April 23, 2019 - Geotab, the world’s leading connected vehicle company for smart city and fleets, today revealed a new study that analyzing commuter sprawls across 20 major cities in the United States. The results depict varying travel patterns across America and identify the U.S. cities with the longest and shortest commutes. The interactive piece, which also ranks the least and most reachable city centers, can be accessed in full here.

Utilizing the 2012-2016 CTPP tabulation of the American Community Survey, Geotab examined data from more than 14 million commuters, calculating mean commute times from census tract areas across the U.S. travelling into 20 of the biggest cities in America. The company then used this data to create detailed maps visualizing these complex travel patterns, highlighting the true commuter boundaries of each of these cities.

“These maps provide us with an alternative way of thinking about cities. A city doesn’t necessarily stop at the official city boundaries — instead, they continue to sprawl much further thanks to the commuters that travel in and out of these areas for work throughout each and every single week,” said Maria Sotra, VP of Marketing at Geotab.

According to the results of Geotab’s Time to Commute study, the U.S. city with the longest average commute was found to be New York City, with those commuting into the city spending 43 minutes travelling on average. Commuters in NYC also face the longest commute by transit (53 minutes) and the city was identified as America’s least reachable city, with only 4% of commuters able to travel into the city in half an hour or less. Additionally, only 28% of NYC commuters can access the city within 30 minutes by car,  while just 6% of public transit users can access the city within 30 minutes.

At just 26 minutes, San Diego was named as the U.S. city with the shortest average commute time.The coastal Californian city also has the shortest commute by car (26 minutes) and was deemed as the most reachable, with 72% of commuters able to access the city within 30 minutes. While 77% of San Diego commuters travelling by car can travel to the city within half an hour, only 17% of public transit users can commute into the city within half an hour. The most reachable city for public transit users is Minneapolis, which 31% of commuters can travel into within 30 minutes.

“This research also highlights the need for ongoing investment in transportation infrastructure across the country,” added Sotra. “The stark contrast between how many cities are easily reachable by car versus those that are easily reachable by public transit suggests that there is still some way to go in ensuring that these cities can be accessed in a reasonable amount of time regardless of your mode of transport.”

The full results of Geotab’s Time to Commute study can be seen in the below tables.

Longest commute times  

City  

Average commute  

By car  

By public transit  

New York City

43

40

53

Washington DC 

41

41

50

Boston

40

40

49

San Francisco

37

36

48

Chicago

37

35

50

Shortest commute times  

City  

Average commute  

By car  

By public transit  

San Diego

26

26

52

Phoenix

26

27

50

Minneapolis  

27

27 39
Portland 28 28 44
Orlando 29 29 53

Least reachable cities for commuting  

City Within 30 mins By car By public transit
New York 4% 28% 6%
Boston 13% 36% 8%
Chicago 17% 43% 11%
Washington D.C.   19% 29% 11%
San Francisco 26% 55% 10%

Most reachable cities for commuters

City Within 30 mins By car By public transit
San Diego 72% 77% 17%
Phoenix 69% 71% 17%
Orlando 65% 67% 13%
Cleveland 59% 65% 13%
Minneapolis   59% 66% 31%

About the data

For the largest city in each of the U.S.’s 20 largest metropolitan areas by population, data from the 2012-2016 CTPP tabulation of the American Community Survey was used to calculate mean commute times from every census tract area in the U.S. to any tracts mostly contained within the city boundary. For tracts with data for fewer than 250 commuters for the relevant transport type, data was supplemented with weighted average commute times from surrounding tracts. Maps rendered based on geographical data from US Census TIGER/Line® Shapefiles.

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About Geotab

Geotab is advancing security, connecting commercial vehicles to the internet and providing web-based analytics to help customers better manage their fleets. Geotab’s open platform and Marketplace, offering hundreds of third-party solution options, allows both small and large businesses to automate operations by integrating vehicle data with their other data assets. As an IoT hub, the in-vehicle device provides additional functionality through IOX Add-Ons. Processing billions of data points a day, Geotab leverages data analytics and machine learning to help customers improve productivity, optimize fleets through the reduction of fuel consumption, enhance driver safety, and achieve strong compliance to regulatory changes. Geotab’s products are represented and sold worldwide through Authorized Geotab Resellers. To learn more, please visit www.geotab.com and follow us @GEOTAB and on LinkedIn.

Media Contact

Maria Sotra
Geotab Inc.
Vice President Marketing
marias@geotab.com

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