The average resident of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton metro area spends 31.4 minutes commuting to work, longer than both the national average of 26.4 minutes and the statewide average of 29.7 minutes. Boston residents have the longest commute of any metro area in Massachusetts.

Two of the main factors that determine commute time are the distance to be traveled and traffic congestion. In large, dense cities, commuters likely travel longer distances from home to work and do so at slower speeds.

In Boston, there are 40,001 people per square mile, a greater population density than the average across all U.S. metro areas of 6,088 Americans per square mile. The metro is comprised of 4,512 square miles of land and water, making it the 63rd largest U.S. metropolitan area by land mass.

Metropolitan areas often consist of a core principal city with strong economic and social ties to their surrounding regions. In the Boston-Cambridge-Newton metro, Boston is the principal city and economic hub for adjacent municipalities and townships. The less concentrated a metropolitan area population is within its principal city, the more time residents spend commuting to work. Nationwide, 38.3% of metro area residents live within their principal city, and the remaining 61.7% in surrounding communities. An estimated 21.9% of Boston-Cambridge-Newton residents live in Boston, a smaller share than the national figure.

Denser cities often have comprehensive public transit systems that can connect residents to their jobs and in some cases shorten the commute to work. In Boston, 13.6% of residents commute via public transportation, a larger share than the national public transit ridership of 5.2%. On average, those who take public transit in Boston take 19 minutes longer getting to work than those who drive. Nationwide, taking public transit adds 25 minutes to the average commute.

Rank Metro Area Commute Time
10 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 30.9
9 Stockton-Lodi, CA 31.1
8 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 31.3
7 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 31.4
6 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 31.8
5 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 31.9
4 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 33.2
3 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 34.4
2 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 36.3
1 East Stroudsburg, PA 39.6