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Best and Worst U.S. Car Commutes

"In recent years we have seen foreclosures increasing faster in outer suburbs than in central cities," says Scott Bernstein, president and founder of CNT. "When gas prices peaked in 2008, families in many regions saw their transportation costs soar by $3,000 per year or more. When communities have few transportation options and require driving long distances for basic necessities, already-stressed household budgets are very vulnerable to spikes in gas prices and rising transportation costs."

According to Bundle's data, the average American worker spends more than $6,000 a year in transportation costs. Those over the age of 65 spent the least this year, averaging $3,820. Those ages 36-40 spent the most: $6,240 a year.

To rank cities, Bundle used spending and price data that looked at the average length of commute, miles traveled, annual hours delayed, auto expenses and gas.

Additional information was culled from the U.S. Census and research conducted by Texas A&M University's Texas Transportation Institute. The weighted categories determined a "score" that was used to rank cities on how good, or bad, their commute was.

The worst commutes
The impact of bad commutes is a measurable drain on personal savings and national productivity.

According to the Urban Mobility Report published last year by the institute, a survey that tracked traffic patterns in 439 U.S. urban areas, the overall cost of commuting (based on wasted fuel and lost productivity) reached $87.2 billion in 2007 -- more than $750 for every U.S. traveler. The total amount of wasted fuel topped 2.8 billion gallons, or three weeks' worth of gas for every traveler. The amount of wasted time, 4.2 billion hours, represents roughly one full workweek (or vacation week) for every traveler.

Bundle determined that the worst commute in the country, in terms of cost and wasted productivity, belongs to Dallas. Other cities that struggle the most with commuter aggravation and cost are San Jose, Calif.; Houston; Miami; Phoenix; Los Angeles; Bridgeport, Conn.; Riverside, Calif.; Austin, Texas; Orlando, Fla.; and Nashville, Tenn.

Dallas had the unfortunate distinction of having one of the nation's longest average commutes (with a combined 52,077 miles a year travelled by its rush hour commuters), as well as costly auto expenses ($400) and a high rate of hours delayed (53).

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