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Trulia Blog

How Does Your City Get To Work?

What's Your City's Commute Time To Work?
From the subway to driving, Trulia explored how renters in America’s largest cities commute to work.

Commuting to work is rarely anyone’s favorite activity, but it’s a daily experience for most of us — so it’s only natural that commute time (and mode of transportation) is a big factor when looking for a new apartment for rent in San Francisco, CA, or Philadelphia, PA. According to internal research by Trulia’s parent company, 69% of renters put being close to their job, school, or transit at the top of their apartment-hunting wish lists.

But exactly how do renters get to work from these conveniently located apartments? If you’re looking for a car-free commute, what cities should you consider? Or if you love blasting tunes on your daily drive, where will you most likely find other car-karaoke lovers? We’ve examined the stats to find out.

Shorter commutes could mean more drivers

Surprise! Most Americans still commute by car, especially in cities like Warren, MI, and Memphis, TN, which top the list, where there are fewer public transportation options. The U.S. Census Bureau and American Community Survey data reveal that average commute times are shorter than the national average of 25.4 minutes in both cities.  Our guess? Shorter commutes mean more people are willing to sit through them.

Meanwhile, in New York, NY, which has the fewest renters who commute to work by car, the number still hovers close to a full third of car-commuting renters at 31.2% — even though workers in the city have the longest commutes in the country (an average of six hours and 18 minutes per week)! New York comes in at a full 16.5 percentage points behind San Francisco, CA, which ranked second to last, where 47.7% of renters commute by car. San Francisco residents also have the second-longest average weekly commutes in America, at four hours and 57 minutes per week.

East Coast vs. West Coast

The Bay Area has two cities in the top 10 metros for renters who commute by subway: Oakland, CA, comes in at number four (8.8%), and San Francisco lands at number seven (7.2%). But the subway is even more popular for renter commuters in the Boston, MA, area: Boston comes in at number two, with 15.7% of renters riding the T subway to work, and Cambridge, MA, sits firmly at number six, with 8.1% of renters. The number one spot goes to — you guessed it — New York, NY.

Subway riders, take note: To help renters seek out a new pad near a rapid-transit station, Trulia has introduced Rent Near Transit, a new search filter that helps renters easily find listings within a 15-minute walk to major rapid-transit systems in six cities. Trulia also built a custom, interactive transit map that shows median rental prices near each station for San Francisco’s BART, the Boston T, the Chicago L, the New York Subway, the Philadelphia SEPTA, and the Washington, DC, Metro.

Round and round

The West Coast has a strong showing on the list of cities where renters favor commuting by bus, with San Francisco and Seattle, WA, taking the top two spots. After driving, San Francisco renters overwhelmingly favor taking the bus to work — perhaps because the city has a fleet of environmentally friendly buses at the ready. But walking is number three on the list of San Francisco renters’ top ways to get to work, with 10.3% of renters commuting on foot every day. Meanwhile, Warren, MI — which topped the list for car commuters — is second only to Fort Worth, TX (0.6%), for the lowest percentage of renters who take the bus to work (1.4%).

What’s your commute time to work? Do you drive or ride? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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