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Think Your Commute Sucks? Here's Which Cities Really Have It the Worst

If you’re among the four out of five Americans who drive alone to work, you’ve likely thought about how much better life would be if you could just skip over your whole commute.

Turns out doing so would save the average American 200 hours and $6,449 annually in fuel, car maintenance and lost time, according to a new study of commuting costs by Clever, an online real estate referral service. But depending on where you work, those costs can skyrocket to as much as $12,000 a year or be as little as $3,000.

So no matter how hellish your twice-daily trek may seem, know that there are people out there suffering more than you are — unless you work in Washington, D.C., because then you get full bragging rights to the worst commute in the nation.

Clever analyzed data from the Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and Gas Buddy for the 50-most populated metro areas in the country to determine which cities offer residents the best and worst commutes.

To determine the onerousness of a city’s commute, Clever factored in the average time it took drivers to reach work, the cost of the fuel needed to drive the average commute distance in that city, the cost of car maintenance likely needed per commute mile driven, and finally the “opportunity cost” of those lost minutes spent driving, which Clever valued as the amount of money or average hourly wage in a city that a person could be earning if they were working instead of commuting. (Though many of us would likely be sleeping, watching TV, or hanging out with our families in those extra minutes rather than working.)

Missing from its calculations were other common commute costs such as tolls or parking fees, as well as any measure of just how annoying the other drivers on the road are or how much construction the local highways are undergoing. And because it rated opportunity costs as lost wages, cities that paid higher-than-average salaries tended to receive a bit of a bump when it came to determining commuting costs.

Below are the five worst and best cities when it comes to costly commutes:

 

The five worst cities for commuting:

 

Washington

Average time to work: 37.04 minutes
Annual total cost of commute: $11,853.08
Annual fuel costs: $978.58
Annual car maintenance costs: $465.34

San Jose, Calif.

Average time to work: 31.05 minutes
Annual total cost of commute: $12,015.65
Annual fuel costs: $596.98
Annual car maintenance costs: $463.02

San Francisco

Average time to work: 32.46 minutes
Annual total cost of commute: $11,377.23
Annual fuel costs: $1,088.45
Annual car maintenance costs: $496.03

New York

Average time to work: 35.47 minutes
Annual total cost of commute: $10,569.31
Annual fuel costs: $601.45
Annual car maintenance costs: $424.90

Seattle

Average time to work: 30.7 minutes
Annual total cost of commute: $10,131.62
Annual fuel costs: $1,141.69
Annual car maintenance costs: $624.80

The five best cities for commuting:

New Orleans

Average time to work: 24.53 minutes
Annual total cost of commute: $5,244.17
Annual fuel costs: $354.34
Annual car maintenance costs: $303.57

Buffalo, N.Y.

Average time to work: 21.65 minutes
Annual total cost of commute: $5,456.75
Annual fuel costs: $578.33
Annual car maintenance costs: $420.25

Milwaukee

Average time to work: 23.7 minutes
Annual total cost of commute: $6,035.92
Annual fuel costs: $544.93
Annual car maintenance costs: $450.47

Oklahoma City

Average time to work: 25.5 minutes
Annual total cost of commute: $6,158.39
Annual fuel costs: $631.15
Annual car maintenance costs: $521.60

Miami

Average time to work: 26.75 minutes
Annual total cost of commute: $6,284.91
Annual fuel costs: $511.22
Annual car maintenance costs: $394.47

To see where your city fell, check the full ranking of all 50 of the largest metros by Clever.