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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).
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
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).
The various expenses for keeping a car on the road also add up significantly during the course of a year. In averaging 12 months of data for such items as toll and bridge fees, supplies and new auto parts, tires, parking lot fees, garages, auto body and repair shops, car washes and towing services, Bundle found Austin and Bridgeport drivers expend an average of $509 and $529 a month on these expenses, respectively. Car owners in Phoenix ($440), Dallas ($400), San Jose ($401) and Hartford ($401) also pay more than most of the country in these costs. This category may be one area in which city drivers seem to get a break: New Yorkers averaged only $137 a month and Philadelphia's commuters just a bit more -- $156 on average each month. The prevalence of public transportation and each city's relative walkability are among the factors that may have driven down costs when spread among the population. >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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