Bar graph with seven cities, showing average commuting times from 53.8 up to 73.4 minutes. Title: How long is your daily commute?

Chart of the Day: How Long Is Your Daily Commute?

Using US Census data, Bloomberg recently published an analysis of the time we spend commuting in the US. Washington DC tops the chart of large metro areas (>10 counties; >60,000 people), with an average daily commute of 73.4 minutes. Minneapolis, MN metro area comes in seventh, with 53.8 minutes daily.


Bar graph with seven cities, showing average commuting times from 53.8 up to 73.4 minutes. Title: How long is your daily commute?

Bloomberg chart: Daily commuting time by metro area


The article also describes how urban sprawl is connected to higher commuting costs, with estimates of ~$15,000 per year for some areas:

“You would like to be close to a place that has high wages or high amenities but you don’t want to pay the high rents,” Monte said. “Rather than paying for higher rent, you can pay that in commuting time.”

Apparently, many workers taking residence in the satellite neighborhoods of San Francisco and the New York-New Jersey metro area also prefer the commute over higher rents, according to the index.


What impacts your commuting choices? Have you elected to reject a job that was too far away? Chose a cheaper transportation mode, like bicycling? Do you take a more scenic route some days, or maybe stick to main roads when the weather is bad? Commuting choices are complex, and often heavily weighted toward quantitative factors like minutes and dollars, but that’s not the whole story. What’s your time worth?

Jenny Werness

About Jenny Werness

Jenny is a carfree, bicycling, tree-loving St. Paul resident, with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. She believes that our rapidly changing climate should be of utmost concern to all of us. Board of Directors of, 2021-2022 & 2019-2021; Climate Committee Founding Member; Editor-in-Chief.

18 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: How Long Is Your Daily Commute?

  1. Paul

    12-minute skyway walk; 8 if I walk fast. 🙂

    Value your own time correctly, then choosing where/how to live becomes obvious.

    Bloomberg calculates the opportunity costs in dollars, but consider also the opportunity cost of life: An hour alone in a car is an hour not spent relaxing, parenting or pursuing a hobby.

    1. Jenny WernessJenny Werness Moderator   Post author

      A skyway walk! How lovely. I agree with you on the non-dollar opportunity costs – it’s convenient to tie things to dollars, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

  2. Karen

    Depends on my mode of transportation, did they ask that?

    I have a 40 minute round trip commute in my car or 2 hour round trip commute on ebike – but since most of my ebiking commute is like being on vacation or doing more or less what I do for leisure on the weekends, I don’t mind the long commute (as long as I have time to do it).

    Similarly, time on transit, especially if you can sit, is likely not has hated as time driving.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      Right. If I bike on the most direct route, I spend around 60-70 minutes round trip, depending on pace (i.e., if I’m in a hurry). I willingly go out of my way for some more miles and spend longer a lot too. That time is spent exercising, though. (For awhile last summer I had a regularly scheduled conference call that I was pretty much just monitoring. Biking during it was glorious.)

      If I ride the bus, I spend about the same, assuming I’ve timed it correctly and there are no weather delays. That time can be spent productively, though.

      I could probably halve that time by driving, as long as I’m willing to pay the exorbitant parking rates in my building. I’m not, so I park a 10-15 walk away, putting me right back in the same total time range. Could probably save a few minutes if I wanted to research parking options more, but I don’t.

      1. Jenny WernessJenny Werness Moderator   Post author

        Same! My bike commute takes much more time than it would take to drive, but it’s time I enjoy and benefit from.

  3. mplsmatt

    Unfortunately, I pay relatively high housing costs to live in a neighborhood I like in Minneapolis and spend 1-2 hours commuting to a reasonably well-paying job in St. Paul. I am fortunate in that I don’t have to drive in traffic (which maybe causes me more mental anguish than others) and that 1-2 hours is spent reading on transit or bicycling. Still, the transit grind can be frustrating and I often wish I could find something closer to home. It doesn’t seem so likely that many science and technology companies will relocate from their suburban campuses to downtown Minneapolis any time soon, though.

    1. Tim

      I think a lot of this comes down to specific space needs — when you have labs, R&D space, a production floor, etc., it’s not feasible to lease space in an office tower like a law firm or marketing company can. Some companies get around this by splitting locations, but that presents its own logistical difficulties.

    2. Jenny WernessJenny Werness Moderator   Post author

      Living somewhere you enjoy really enriches daily life. As does a commute that doesn’t involve the frustration of driving!

  4. Josh

    I guess just to provide the opposite view, I live in the city and reverse commute 14 miles into the suburbs. I hate driving. But moving closer to my job would make me hate where I live. My office is 3 miles deep onto a state highway going 60 mph with no sidewalks, no shoulders, and no alternate routes for biking.

    So I’m stuck.

    Change my job is my only option, but I really like my job…. just wish my commute could be more productive.

    1. Jenny WernessJenny Werness Moderator   Post author

      I commiserate with you on this, having a job I really like in an area that I do not want to live in. It’s not quite as far or inaccessible as what you describe, but I have similar feeling of being “stuck.”

  5. Serafina ScheelSerafina Scheel

    My commute takes about 25 minutes door to door whether I bike, take transit, or drive downtown. Costs are free, $4-$5, or $5-$10, respectively. I mostly bike until the snow stays. In the past two years, I’ve only driven to work a half a dozen times.

    I quit a job when the organization moved from 48th and Chicago to Bloomington. They gave me the time flexibility to try to make it work, but it was just too miserable.

    One of my big complaints when looking for work is when companies make it hard to see where they are located, especially when all their material lists their location as Minneapolis, when in reality they are in a far-flung suburb.

    1. Jenny WernessJenny Werness Moderator   Post author

      Oh yeah I’ve been confused by the job postings that make those kinds of claims. So frustrating! Your commute sounds quick and convenient, and I can definitely understand why you wouldn’t want to go to Bloomington every day.

  6. Monte Castleman

    I’ve never rejected a job outright due to the commute, but on the other hand I never looked for a job elsewhere than the southern / southwestern suburbs. First job was a 45 minute commute, Second job (although I mostly telecommute now) is half that.

    What I value my time at is kind of irrelevant since it’s not like I could afford a single family detached house either closer to downtown (if I ever have to take a job there) or farther out into the outer ring suburbs where both my jobs were / are.

  7. Michael RodenMichael Roden

    I live in DC and I love my commute. I walk half a mile with my 2-year-old son to his daycare, drop him off, then hop across the street to my metro stop. I ride the train 4 stops and get off one stop early to visit my favorite coffee shop, then walk with my coffee another half mile in to my office. Door to door is about 45 minutes. On days that I bike I can make it to the office in less than 20 minutes.

    1. Jenny WernessJenny Werness Moderator   Post author

      Multi modal commute with kid and coffee stop, that sounds like a great way to spend 45 minutes!

  8. Tim

    My commute is 15-20 minutes depending on traffic; longer if the roads are snowy or icy. I commute from a suburb to the far edge of a neighboring one. I sometimes run errands on the way home to eliminate extra trips. I telecommute once in a while as well if the weather is really bad or if I need to be home for some reason.

    I’ve declined a position before due to the commute — it was for more than what I made at the time, but the commute would have nearly doubled and there were no transit options (which I used at the time), plus it would have required working odd hours with no possibility of remote work. When looking for work, I’ve tried to stay in the nearby suburbs when possible, or the downtowns. It would take a lot to get me to accept something on the far side of the metro from where I am now.

  9. Andrew Evans

    I’m at about 40 min to an hour going to work. Then coming back it’s about the same time to the gym, and then about that much to an hour getting home. I get on river road in North and take it all the way down by the VA and then over to Mendota Heights. Could take the freeway, but then I have to go through the tunnel, and decide if I want to put up with traffic down 55, or the merge onto 62. Although maybe slower, traffic depending, what I do is pretty consistent and a lovely drive.

    Taking a bus would be at least twice that much, I wouldn’t be able to have the option of going to the gym after work, and really wouldn’t save me all that much since we’d keep the 3 cars we have anyway. Completely different story if I worked downtown.

  10. Cobo R

    My Commute one way is 17-22 Min by car 60-70 min by bike, and 150-220 min by bus, and ~240 min if were to ever to walk it.

    I try to be multimodal (bike and car) but mostly commute by car due to time.

    I live in a fairly walkable area, but my job is a very auto dependent area. So if I lived nearer to work I would probably drive even more.

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