The 14 Metro Areas With the Most Commuters Who Are Pressed for Time

As measured by the amount of time motorists are stuck in traffic, Boston ranks first in the U.S. for traffic congestion, followed by Washington, D.C.; Chicago; New York City; and Los Angeles.

We decided to look at traffic trouble in a different way — by figuring out which of the country’s 50 biggest metro areas have the most commuters who are pressed for time. And in our study, New York City ranks first, bumping Boston to No. 5.

To develop our ranking, we pulled commuting data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey. Digging into that data, we looked at the number of commuters in each of the 50 metro areas and the number of commuters who travel at least 60 minutes to work by car or any other mode of transportation. We then computed the percentage of all commuters who travel at least 60 minutes to work and ranked each metro. Only those metros with percentage higher than 10% made the list.

The New York City area motored ahead of the other metros to capture the No. 1 ranking. There, 22.6% of commuters travel at least 60 minutes to work. No other metro area broke the 20% mark.

Traffic within New York City has gotten so bad that it’s now the first U.S. city to impose so-called “congestion pricing” fees. Motorists entering the city through Lower Manhattan will be hit with the fees, which are set to take effect in 2021.

“The fees are expected to raise billions of dollars to fix the city’s troubled subway system and thin out streets that have become strangled by traffic,” The New York Times reported in March 2019.

It remains to be seen whether those fees will curb the number of commuters who are traveling at least 60 minutes to get to work.

With New York City leading the pack, here is our ranking of the 14 metro areas with the most commuters who are pressed for time.

1. New York City, New York

Number of commuters: 9,258,386
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 2,094,323
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 22.6%

2. San Francisco, California 

Number of commuters: 2,254,095
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 418,825
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 18.6%

3. Riverside-San Bernardino, California

Number of commuters: 1,888,778
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 334,597
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 17.7%

4. Washington, D.C.

Number of commuters: 3,144,623
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 549,591
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 17.5%

5. Boston, Massachusetts

Number of commuters: 2,446,040
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 369,750
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 15.1%

6. Chicago, Illinois

Number of commuters: 4,455,102
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 645,809
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 14.5%

7. Atlanta, Georgia

Number of commuters: 2,715,426
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 388,918
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 14.3%

8. Los Angeles, California

Number of commuters: 6,077,813
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 841,942
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 13.9%

9. Baltimore, Maryland

Number of commuters: 1,336,740
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 178,958
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 13.4%

10. Seattle, Washington

Number of commuters: 1,921,071
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 253,066
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 13.2%

11. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Number of commuters: 2,808,466
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 333,697
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 11.9%

12. Miami, Florida

Number of commuters: 2,814,512
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 316,770
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 11.3%

13. San Jose, California

Number of commuters: 971,113
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 108,474
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 11.2%

14. Houston, Texas

Number of commuters: 3,132,202
Number of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 347,017
Share of commuters traveling at least 60 minutes to work: 11.1%