These 10 US cities had the worst commutes before the pandemic. Alphabet’s CEO says that will have to change when we’re back to our offices.

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Two cities included in Lending Tree’s top 10 ranking of the US cities with the most expensive commutes, San Francisco and San Jose, are serviced by the Caltrain. Aric Crabb/Digital First Media/Bay Area News/Getty Images

Your commute isn’t just costing you a subway fare or the price of gas – commuting costs time, and time is money.

Right now, with employees working to flatten the curve amid the COVID-19 outbreak, most nonessential businesses have no commute times at all – unless you count moving from bed to the home office. And that’s still effective, according to Alphabet CEOSundar Pichai, because we’ve been working face to face for years: We’ve laid the groundwork to start collaborating from a distance.

Pichai told Time that considering the toll commuting takes on families, companies across the US should reconsider how employees come to work and be more accommodating on what “coming into work” means on the other side of the pandemic.

That toll comes in the form of physical movement and money spent. Online loan marketplace Lending Tree published a report on the most expensive commutes in the 100 largest cities in the US in October. Lending Tree posits that the cost of a commute can be calculated by assuming time commuting has the same worth as time spent working.

Consider a resident in New York, which Lending Tree ranked as the city with the fifth most expensive commute. Using Lending Tree’s findings via 2017 Census Bureau data, the median annual earnings for a full-time employee in New York is $US51,573; their hourly wage is $US26. Now, consider the mean time of commuting one way, 41.8 minutes. If you make $US26 per hour at your job, and you spend 83.6 minutes daily on your round-trip commute, then your time wasted commuting is worth $US37 of time you would have been working.

Five cities in California – Oakland, San Jose, Irvine, San Francisco, and Fremont – took top 10 spots in Lending Tree’s ranking, with four of those cities being in the increasingly expensive San Francisco Bay Area.

Here are the 10 US cities with the most expensive commutes per person, given commute time and salary.


10. Oakland, California

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The Fruitvale station BART platform in Oakland, California. MediaNews/Getty Images

Median full-time earnings: $US56,307

Hourly wage: $US29

Average hours worked per week: 38.7

Mean commute time: 33.9 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $US33

Annual cost of commute: $US8,549


9. San Jose, California

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This Caltrain’s final stop is in San Jose, California. Nick Otto/Washington Post/Getty Images

Median full-time earnings: $US61,999

Hourly wage: $US32

Average hours worked per week: 38.3

Mean commute time: 31.3 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $US34

Annual cost of commute: $US8,782


8. Seattle, Washington

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A South Lake Union streetcar with Amazon.com logo moves along a street in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighbourhood. Ted S. Warren/AP Images

Median full-time earnings: $US72,052

Hourly wage: $US37

Average hours worked per week: 39.2

Mean commute time: 28.3 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $US35

Annual cost of commute: $US9,016


7. Jersey City, New Jersey

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The PATH train terminal in the Oculus. Katie Warren/Business Insider

Median full-time earnings: $US57,152

Hourly wage: $US29

Average hours worked per week: 39.9

Mean commute time: 36.5 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $US35

Annual cost of commute: $US9,062


6. Washington, DC

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Commuters travel on the WMATA Metro in Washington, DC. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Median full-time earnings: $US70,725

Hourly wage: $US35

Average hours worked per week: 40.5

Mean commute time: 30.8 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $US36

Annual cost of commute: $US9,323


5. New York, New York

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New York City subway station in Manhattan’s financial district. Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Median full-time earnings: $US51,573

Hourly wage: $US26

Average hours worked per week: 39

Mean commute time: 41.8

Daily cost of commute: $US37

Annual cost of commute: $US9,581


4. Irvine, California

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Early morning commuters at the Irvine Transportation Centre wait in the rain with their umbrellas to board a southbound Amtrak train. Mark Boster/LA Times/Getty Images

Median full-time earnings: $US80,944

Hourly wage: $US42

Average hours worked per week: 38.3

Mean commute time: 26.8

Daily cost of commute: $US38

Annual cost of commute: $US9,818


3. Arlington. Virginia

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Commuters board a Metro train at the Crystal City stop in Arlington, Virginia. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Median full-time earnings: $US82,357

Hourly wage: $US39

Average hours worked per week: 41.8

Mean commute time: 29.1 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $US38

Annual cost of commute: $US9,938


2. San Francisco, California

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Two San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (MUNI) buses enter at the agency’s Presidio Division office. Stephen Lam/Reuters

Median full-time earnings: $US80,812

Hourly wage: $US40

Average hours worked per week: 40.4

Mean commute time: 33.8 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $US45

Annual cost of commute: $US11,719


1. Fremont, California

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BART train station at Warm Springs/South Fremont. Winni Wintermeyer/Washington Post/Getty Images

Median full-time earnings: $US82,106

Hourly wage: $US42

Average hours worked per week: 38.8

Mean commute time: 34.9 minutes

Daily cost of commute: $US49

Annual cost of commute: $US12,801