25 Cities That Gained the Most Time Back From Their Commutes

Young remote worker happy about his time saved commuting
SG SHOT / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on CoPilot.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, commuting was a daily habit for most American workers. Americans spent an average of 4.5 hours per week on their commute in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Although the amount of time that the average person spent commuting had been steadily increasing, the predominant shift to remote work in 2020 is reversing this trend — possibly for the long-term.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the amount of time that an average person spends commuting has been rising. In 2018, the average travel time to work was 27.1 minutes, compared with 25.3 minutes in 2010. While the difference might not seem like much, it amounts to 18 extra minutes each week or 16 hours per year.

Commuting also comes with economic costs. The 2019 Urban Mobility Report released by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that the average American commuter spends nearly seven full working days per year in traffic delays, incurring over $1,000 in personal costs. For those who drive alone, long commutes and especially traffic delays can be detrimental to productivity.

Prior to COVID-19, the average total time spent commuting and working was 43.4 hours per week. When calculating the average number of hours spent commuting (4.5 hours) compared with the average number of hours spent on work and commuting (43.4 hours), newly-remote workers nationwide have gained an average 10.4% of their workweek back.

However, some locations are more likely to have gained significant time back from their commutes than others. Remote workers in coastal states gained the most time back, while those in central states are likely saving less time.

To find out which cities are gaining the most time back from not having to commute, researchers at CoPilot, a car shopping app, analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey and calculated what percentage of the average workweek was spent commuting to and from work prior to the pandemic. Cities were then ranked by this percentage.

The researchers also included the share of workers who, prior to COVID-19, commuted alone by car — the mode of transportation that is least conducive to multitasking.

Following are the large cities gaining the most time back from their commutes.

25. New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana at night
f11 photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 9.9%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.2 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 42.6 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 68.0%

24. Dallas

Dallas, Texas
mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 10.0%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.5 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 45.2 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 76.7%

23. Arlington, Texas

Arlington, Virginia
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 10.1%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.5 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 44.5 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 82.2%

22. Portland, Oregon

Aerial view of Portland with Mount Hood in the background.
josemaria-toscano / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 10.1%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.3 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 42.4 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 58.5%

21. Las Vegas

North Las Vegas, Nevada
Wollertz / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 10.3%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.4 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 43.1 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 77.1%

20. Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas
Dean Fikar / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 10.3%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.6 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 44.8 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 82.2%

19. Houston

Houston, Texas skyline
Silvio Ligutti / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 10.3%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.6 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 44.8 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 78.1%

18. Sacramento, California

Sacramento, California
Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 10.4%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.4 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 42.3 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 73.7%

17. Detroit

Detroit, Michigan
Susanne Pommer / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 10.4%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.3 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 41.6 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 69.0%

16. Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia, Piedmont Park skyline autumn
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 10.5%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.7 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 44.8 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 65.6%

15. Seattle

Seattle skyline
Checubus / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 10.8%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.7 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 43.9 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 44.4%

14. Anaheim, California

rides Paradise Pier Anaheim California reflected lake
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 11.1%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 4.8 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 43.3 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 78.3%

13. Miami

Miami Beach Ocean Drive at dusk
Tono Balaguer / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 11.3%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.1 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 44.8 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 67.2%

12. Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C.
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 11.3%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.2 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 45.5 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 34.2%

11. Aurora, Colorado

Aurora, Colorado
Steve Lagreca / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 11.4%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.1 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 44.5 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 76.0%

10. San Jose, California

The skyline of San Jose, which has a lower median rent than median mortgage payment
stellamc / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 11.8%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.2 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 43.8 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 76.3%

9. Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 11.9%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.3 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 44.2 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 62.2%

8. Boston

Boston
mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 12.0%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.2 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 43.5 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 38.5%

7. San Francisco

San Francisco
Sean Xu / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 12.0%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.5 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 46.0 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 30.3%

6. Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California
Idealphotographer / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 12.0%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.2 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 43.2 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 76.1%

5. Los Angeles

The streets of Los Angeles, where median rent is relatively low
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 12.4%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.4 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 43.6 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 69.6%

4. Oakland, California

Oakland bridge
Micha Weber / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 12.6%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.6 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 44.2 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 51.5%

3. Philadelphia

Philadelphia, downtown evening rush hour.
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 13.0%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.7 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 44.0 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 49.5%

2. Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
Kristopher Kettner / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 13.1%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 5.9 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 44.9 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 48.9%

1. New York City

New York viewed from Brooklyn Bridge.
491615143 / Shutterstock.com
  • Time gained back from not commuting: 15.2%
  • Total commuting time (prior to COVID-19): 7.0 hours per week
  • Total commuting + working time (prior to COVID-19): 46.0 hours per week
  • Share of workers who commuted alone by car (prior to COVID-19): 22.5%

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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