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Posted on Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 3:02 p.m.

Ann Arbor listed among 15 cities for people who hate driving and long commutes

By Amalie Nash

Ann Arbor: An ideal city for people who hate driving and long commutes?

That's what U.S. News & World Report says in a list published Wednesday that offers advice for "where to go if you don't want to spend a lot of time behind the wheel."

The average travel time for a car commute is a little over 24 minutes, the article says. For public transportation, it's more than 48 minutes.

According to the article, the average commute time in Ann Arbor is 18.4 minutes, and non-car commuters make up 27.5 percent of all commuters.


In Ann Arbor, the average commute time is 18.4 minutes, and non-car commuters make up 27.5 percent of all commuters.

File photo

The article says, "The list is heavy on college towns, for a few good reasons: Such places are good fits for nondrivers because they are often compact and dense, and they often have liberal populations that demand more investment in public transportation."

The article says of Ann Arbor:

Since it is one of the best-known college towns in America, it shouldn't be surprising that Ann Arbor is not car-heavy. Many of the city's major employers, such as the academic journal service JSTOR, the weather service Weather Underground, and the headquarters for Google's AdWords service are based downtown. That centralized location and Ann Arbor's compact nature make commuting easy for walkers, bikers, and bus riders.

Other cities that made the list (as well as their average commuting times):

  • Cambridge, Mass. (24 minutes)
  • Pittsburgh (23.1 minutes)
  • Boulder, Colo. (18.4 minutes)
  • Davis, Calif. (20.3 minutes)
  • New Haven, Conn. (21.6 minutes)
  • Chapel Hill, N.C. (20.1 minutes)
  • Minneapolis (21.9 minutes)
  • Portland, Ore. (24.1 minutes)
  • Ames, Iowa (15.3 minutes)
  • Madison, Wis. (18.7 minutes)
  • Honolulu (23 minutes)
  • Provo, Utah (16.2 minutes)
  • Eugene, Ore. (16.9 minutes)
  • Syracuse, N.Y. (16.3 minutes)

U.S. News said the cities were chosen using the following guidelines: First, cities with populations of more than 50,000 were included. Second, they considered the average commuting time in metropolitan areas throughout the country—24.4 minutes in 2009, according to the Census—and narrowed the list to cities with even shorter average commuting times. Finally, data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey was used to calculate the percentage of a city's workers over age 16 that gets to work without driving or carpooling (those who work from home were excluded).

Earlier this week, the Ann Arbor metro area made another list: The the least dangerous for pedestrians, compared to 14 other metro areas in the state.



Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 3:53 p.m.

It looks like a lot of these cities contain a major university (Harvard/MIT, U Cal Davis, Yale, UNC, Iowa State, U of Wisconsin, U of Oregon, Syracuse U). Perhaps the high portion of professors & staff who choose to live near the campus has some effect on this statistic.


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 12:28 p.m.

ann arbor is a small town not even realy a city this is funny, how hard is your comute in this tiny little town ann arbor lol


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 10:31 a.m.

Convenient but sad in a way, anyone leaving A2 to battle the Detroit Metro area during rush hour can't help but notice that the jam-ups and back-ups at the normal choke points have all but melted away because so many fewer people are driving to their jobs right now. It's about the only silver lining I can find in the areas high unemployment rate right now.


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 10:24 a.m.

Having come from Miami, Ann Arbor commutes are an absolute dream!

Nancy Shore

Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 9:31 a.m.

Lots of interesting comments to this story. I definitely agree with those who want an express bus service (or train!) from Ypsi to Ann Arbor. There are many, many employees that come from the east side of the county and work in downtown Ann Arbor. I believe they would ride the bus more if the time was more comparable to car travel. Also wanted to give a shameless plug to the getDowntown Program ( We provide commuting programs and services to employees who work in downtown Ann Arbor. We are very lucky to have so many commuting choices here, especially if you live in Ann Arbor. The challenge we have is that many, many people are commuting into the downtown to work at the UM and at businesses downtown from outside of Ann Arbor. Their options are a lot more limited. It would be great to have a better regional transportation system that incorporated rail, bikes, buses, etc. I think we are getting there. If you have an interest in this issue and want to be involved, check out


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 9:26 a.m.

As a commuter in SE Michigan metro area, traffic has dropped over the years, primarily due to job loss. Houston is busy because the economy in Texas is thriving. Put those 15.1 percent back to work and the streets will be fuller, and you will have trouble getting a parking spot at the mall.


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 8:38 a.m.

I can use my University of Michigan employee ID to ride the bus for free. Thanks, U-M, for making that possible.


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 8:17 a.m.

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one. As a Metro Detroit transplant, I never knew how good traffic and commutes could be! :)


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 7:33 a.m.

I bike 10 minutes to work, 30-45 minutes walking (depending on depth of snow), and 0 time by car because the "free" parking lots are further away from my work than where I live!


Fri, Nov 13, 2009 : 7:09 a.m.

I live less than a mile from work, We are spoiled. When visiting my Sister in the Seattle area we always had to listen to the radio to plan our driving routes and avoid tie-ups. We who do not commute are healthier because of it. Driving is stress not to mention the lost minutes. I'm a "live where you work supporter".


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 11:13 p.m.

Great, more cyclists on the road to cause accidents!


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 11:03 p.m.

81 wolverine-you are right about Houston. Light commute times in A2, but how many bicyclists are lost each week in the potholes?

Marvin Face

Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 8:33 p.m.

My commute - 5 minutes by bike, 15 minutes walking, 7 minutes by car.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 4:17 p.m.

I live in Ypsilanti and work in downtown Ann Arbor. My commute if I drive (and I count the time I spend parking) is 30 minutes. I dont usually drive though. I usually take the bus. My commute is about an hour each way counting the time to walk to and from the bus stop. It is a little long but I am keeping my fingers crossed for that Ann Arbor-Detroit train. I suspect that if I can catch the train in Ypsilanti and get off in Ann Arbor, my door to door commute will be the same as driving and that will be awesome.


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 3:44 p.m.

swcornell, Yes because its Ann Arbor city limits. The Census asks people the commute time and also asks public or private mode of transporation. Many people in the city limits have a 5-10 commute to the university, the biggest employer. If they included Ypsi, Saline and Pittsfield where the proportion of auto comuters is greater, the results would swing it the other way.


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 3:43 p.m.

I've learned to be grateful for the relatively light traffic here. My family and I were in a city on the other end of the spectrum last weekend - Houston, TX. Holy Christmas - what a nightmare! Here are the lowlights: 1. Being stopped at a railroad crossing for 1/2 hour that goes through one of the busiest areas of the city. 2. Driving into the city's largest shopping mall and not being able to find a parking space. 3. Having to get off the main highway on the way to the airport after it was shut down because of an accident. So, be happy driving around here!

Spencer Thomas

Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 3:27 p.m.

25 minutes walking, 10-15 on the bus, about the same if I drive, park, and walk from the parking lot. Why drive?


Thu, Nov 12, 2009 : 3:09 p.m.

I wonder if this includes all the people that commute to Dearborn and beyond to work for the automobile industry?