The US cities with the worst commutes to work

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The distance you drive or take public transit to work can vary dramatically based on where you live.

Analysing location data from commuters in 933 metros with a population of at least 100,000, researchers from StreetLight Data found the places where residents travel the longest distances to work. In total, they looked at the median, round-trip journeys of approximately 20 million commuters in September 2017.

The primary goal was to study the links between three socioeconomic factors – income, education level, and rent prices – and commute length, according to Laura Schewel, CEO of StreetLight Data.

When looking at nationwide averages, there isn’t a strong relationship between high-income, high-cost, college-educated neighbourhoods and short commutes. But if you zoom into certain cities, there are correlations.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, for example, non-college-degree, low-income residents tend to have longer commutes than their college-educated, higher-income neighbours. According to the study, out of the three socioeconomic factors, having a college degree is most highly correlated with having a short commute.

While the study measured commute length for all types of transit (from biking to walking to driving), it doesn’t look at how access to public transport correlates with commute length. However, Schewel does note that places with exceptionally long commutes tend to be in rural areas without access to major public transit systems.

There are a few caveats to the data. The places with the longest commutes are relatively small, and job opportunities might be limited – so residents drive to larger cities nearby. The study also doesn’t consider people who lack smartphones or connected vehicles, people who work from home, or those who work in different places every day.

Take a look at the cities with the longest commutes.


15. East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

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Population: 172,936

Median rent: $US1,325

Median commute distance: 14 miles


14. Gallup, New Mexico

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Population: 57,295

Median rent: $US613

Median commute distance: 14 miles


13. Aberdeen, Washington

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Population: 57,780

Median rent: $US720

Median commute distance: 14.1 miles


12. Morehead City, North Carolina

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Population: 69,250

Median rent: $US689

Median commute distance: 14.1 miles


11. Fergus Falls, Minnesota

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Fergus Falls State Hospital in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Wikipedia Commons

Population: 51,785

Median rent: $US589

Median commute distance: 14.1 miles


10. Pecos, Texas

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Population: 10,362

Median rent: $US614

Median commute distance: 14.4 miles


9. Hudson, New York

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Population: 56,120

Median rent: $US817

Median commute distance: 14.9 miles


8. Walterboro, South Carolina

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Population: 40,560

Median rent: $US684

Median commute distance: 15 miles


7. Espanola, New Mexico

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Skyline view from the city’s industrial park. Rr0044/Wikipedia Commons

Population: 37,571

Median rent: $US677

Median commute distance: 15.7 miles


6. Brainerd, Minnesota

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Northern Pacific Railroad Shops Historic District in Brainerd, Minnesota. Elkman/Wikipedia Commons

Population: 92,839

Median rent: $US616

Median commute distance: 17.4 miles


5. Show Low, Arizona

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Population: 82,527

Median rent: $US760

Median commute distance: 18.2 miles


4. Berlin, New Hampshire

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Population: 33,160

Median rent: $US667

Median commute distance: 19.8 miles


3. Ocean City, New Jersey

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Population: 96,685

Median rent: $US1,076

Median commute distance: 26.6 miles


2. Ocean Pines, Maryland

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Population: 50,375

Median rent: $US1,411

Median commute distance: 29.2 miles


1. Bishop, California

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Downtown Bishop, California looking south along US-395. Wikipedia Commons

Population: 4,787

Median rent: $US824

Median commute distance: 70.2 miles