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Best and Worst U.S. Car Commutes

The best commutes
The cities that emerged as the least expensive and relatively free pf trouble included: Eugene, Ore.; Brownsville, Texas; Toledo, Ohio; Laredo, Texas; Anchorage, Alaska; Spokane, Wash.; Beaumont, Texas; Boulder, Colo; Akron, Ohio; and Buffalo, N.Y.

Boulder was "best" among the 90 markets surveyed, in large part because it had fewer commuters traveling fewer miles during their commute as compared with other cities. Brownsville followed close behind in both categories.

Though other factors bumped it off our top 10 list in this category, residents of Detroit, a one-time center of the universe for all things related to automobiles, spent the least on auto expenses and gas than any other city.

Hours delayed
One of the obvious causes of roadway congestion is that many workers need to arrive at work at pretty much the same time. According to the U.S. Census, 53% of commuters leave for work each morning between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m.

Of those who drove each day to and from work, the average commute was 25.5 minutes each way; 30.8% had a 10- to 19-minute average commute and 8%endured an hour-plus drive.

The influx of cars on the road often overtaxes roads serving as the major artery between city centers and outlying suburbs.

A study last month by Navteq, a provider of maps, traffic and location data, offered its analysis of the cities with the worst rush hour commutes. In order, they were New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta and Houston.

Navteq also offered list of most congested cities and freeways. The freeways with the "slowest typical rush hour" were:

  • New York City at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel northbound
  • New York City at the George Washington Bridge eastbound
  • Philadelphia at US-202 southbound
  • New York City at the George Washington Bridge westbound
  • Los Angeles at Interstate 10 eastbound
  • Boston at U.S. 1 northbound
  • Dallas at State Route 366 eastbound

Bundle's analysis found that residents of Washington, D.C., wasted the most time stuck in traffic, with an average of 62 hours of delays each year during peak commutes. Other cities suffering from stop-and-go syndrome were Atlanta (57 hours of delays), Houston (56), San Francisco (55), Dallas (53), Orlando (53), San Jose (52), San Diego (52) and Detroit (52).

Gas pains
The weekly fill-up can detract significantly from savings over the course of a month for daily commuters.

One might imagine that with all its oil wells, Texans might have an easier time at the pump, but they, in fact, spend more than many others. Austin drivers, on average, pay $345 a month for fuel, significantly more than even fellow Lone Star denizens in Corpus Christi ($209), Dallas ($193) and Houston ($197).

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