7 Arizona cities rank among Top 100 worst commutes in U.S.

While remote work has boomed over the past three years, the majority of working Americans still commute to work. According to the census, a one-way commute to work took an average of 25.6 minutes in 2021. Using this estimate, in 2023 workers will average almost 222 hours (or just over nine days) of commuting to and from work. And those hours spent in transit cost commuters more than just their time. Fuel prices, public transit tickets, and other commuting expenses can add up quickly. And for Valley drivers, note that Glendale is the #4 US city with worst commutes, which ranks highest among the seven Arizona cities in the top 100 for worst commutes.

To find where residents have the worst commutes, we compared data from the 100 largest US cities and ranked the worst commutes based on six key metrics related to commute time and commute costs. For details on our data sources and how we compile all of the information to create our final rankings, see the Data and Methodology section below.

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This is SmartAsset’s third study of cities where residents have the worst commutes. View the previous version here.

Important Findings

  • Despite the rise in remote work, the average commute time has dropped just one minute in five years. The national average fell from 26.6 minutes in 2016 to 25.6 minutes in 2021. By comparison, the proportion of telecommuters has tripled in about half the time.
  • Cities in the southwest and south are high on the list. Two Californian cities rank #1 and #2 (Stockton and Bakersfield, respectively). The next eight spots are claimed by cities in another seven South and Southwest states. These high-ranking cities saw larger changes in commute times over a five-year period. There is no city outside of these two regions until #15 (New York City).

Cities where residents have the worst commutes

1. Stockton, CA

Stockton, California ranks first as the city with the worst commuting for residents. It is 90 minutes east of San Francisco by car. On average, workers in Stockton have a typical commute of about 33 minutes, which represents a 6.21% increase between 2016 and 2021. However, over 17% of workers have a commute that takes more than an hour (second highest).

2. Bakersfield, CA

Travel time extensions between 2016 and 2021 put Bakersfield, California in second place. While the average commute time is around 24 minutes, it’s up 10.05% since 2016 (the second-biggest change). Similarly, only 6.6% of workers commute longer than an hour, but that volume has increased by 2.4% over the same period — the highest increase across all 100 cities in this study.

3. Garland, TX

The majority of workers in Garland, Texas are commuters (86.1%). And they have the seventh longest commute time on average (about 30 minutes). However, about 9.1% of commuters experience journeys longer than an hour (12th-highest). Overall, the average commute time increased by 2.37% between 2016 and 2021.

4.Glendale, Arizona

About 1 in 10 workers commutes more than an hour to Glendale, which ranks 12th on this metric. Between 2016 and 2021, the proportion of employed persons who commute more than an hour increased by 1.4% (third highest value). On average, commute time exceeds just under 28 minutes (16th-highest time).

5. Orlando, FL

With nearly 60 million annual visitors, Orlando, Florida is known for theme parks like Disney World and Universal Studios. Four-fifths of workers in this city commute to work, typically taking nearly 26 minutes to get there. On the bright side, less than 5% of commuters take more than an hour to get to work.

6. Las Vegas, Nevada

Commuters in Sin City make up 86.5% of the workforce. Their average commute time is in the top third of the study (25.7 minutes). But 5% of those commuters have commutes of more than an hour. And the percentage of workers who commute more than an hour increased by 0.8% between 2016 and 2021. Las Vegas also ranks in the top 20 for five-year change in average commute time (0.78%).

7. El Paso, TX

El Paso, Texas has approximately 678,000 residents and the majority of the workforce (89.9%) commutes to work (12th highest number). It ranks second overall for transportation costs relative to income, with commuters paying 14.13% of their median household income for transportation in the city and surrounding areas.

8. Baton Rouge, LA

Baton Rouge, Louisiana has the 11th highest percentage of commuters in the workforce (90.2%). Transportation in the city and surrounding areas accounts for 12.24% of annual income (the seventh highest). Average travel time is just under 23 minutes, but more than 6% of workers commute in more than an hour.

9. Aurora, CO

Located 17 miles outside of Denver, Aurora has the 12th longest average commute time (28.5 minutes). This average is up 1.79% between 2016 and 2021, ranking 15th on this metric. Approximately 6.8% of workers commute longer than an hour (23rd-highest).

10. Winston-Salem, NC

The Camel City rounds out the top 10, with nearly 85% of workers commuting to work. They typically spend an average of 21.6 minutes on the road, which is almost 6% more than in 2016. Also, transportation here generally costs 12.63% of annual income.

How other Arizona cities rank among worst commuter cities

No. 33: Tucson, with an average commute time of 28.1 minutes

No. 41: Mesa, with an average commute time of 23.8 minutes

No. 56: Phoenix, with an average commute time of 24.5 minutes

No. 80: Gilbert, with an average commute time of 24.4 minutes

No. 94: Scottsdale, with an average commute time of 21.1 minutes

No. 96: Chandler, with an average commute time of 22.4 minutes

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