Which Neighborhoods Have the Best — and Worst — Commute Times in New York City

Which Neighborhoods Have the Best — and Worst — Commute Times in New York City

Known to many as the city that never sleeps, New York is notoriously one of the busiest, loudest, and most trafficked urban centers in the world. The city is a Mecca for arts and entertainment, and it’s also home to one of the densest business districts across the globe, namely Manhattan. 

The story goes that ‘if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere,’ and this phrase takes a whole new meaning when you’re one of the millions of people commuting to work in NYC every day. The massive daily influx of commuters and tourists means that New York City is also known for its traffic, especially at rush hour, when streets and subway tunnels are flooded with people. 

Commute Times in NYC – 188 Neighborhoods, Mapped

Some parts of the city have it worse than others when it comes to commuting. We wanted to see which neighborhoods boast the longest and shortest commute times across the five boroughs. We used the most recent commute data from the Census Bureau, as well as neighborhood data from NYC Open Data, to create a map containing 188 neighborhoods and their corresponding commute times. 

We should note that these are average commute times; the numbers may vary considerably depending on the time of day and other factors that might delay travel time. Even so, if you’re looking to get a job in the city, considering a move to another neighborhood or borough, or looking to move your business to a new location, then you’ll want to factor in how much time you’ll be spending on your commute. 

Our map covers 188 neighborhoods across the five boroughs, with neighborhood boundaries defined according to NYC Open Data. The areas in green boast shorter commute times, while the red boast the longest. Neighborhoods, where no commute data was available, were removed from the map, but still, this should give you a good idea of the most, and least, trafficked areas in the city. 

What might stand out at first glance is the fact that Manhattan is almost entirely green. If we were to rank all the 188 neighborhoods on our map in descending order, according to their commute times, Manhattan would make its first appearance at #86, with Marble Hill-Inwood, which boasts an average commute time of 49 minutes. 

For many neighboring areas, the difference lies in mere minutes. However, when you’re late to work and stuck in traffic, every minute counts. To get a better idea of what neighborhoods fare best – and worst – when it comes to commutes, we’re now going to look at the 20 NYC neighborhoods with the longest commute times, and the 20 with the shortest commute times. 

New Yorkers Living in Williamsburg Enjoy the Shortest Commute Time in NYC

Out of the 20 neighborhoods in NYC with the shortest commute times, 17 are located in Manhattan. That might come as a surprise. But it’s worth noting that many people working in Manhattan also live on or close to the island. What’s more, due to unforeseen events, accidents, or construction work, the numbers can vary significantly from one hour to the next. Still, it’s encouraging to see a map of NYC where Manhattan isn’t all red, but all green. 

Manhattan might be green, but one Brooklyn neighborhood is greener. As it turns out from our analysis, Williamsburg boasts the shortest commute time among all 188 NYC neighborhoods on our map. It takes Brooklyners 25 minutes on average to get from home to work or vice versa. More than 40% of Williamsburg commuters spend less than 15 minutes on their commute, while just 7% spend more than an hour going to work and back. That’s good news for this bustling neighborhood, which is becoming more and more popular among homebuyers, renters, and businesses alike. 

After Williamsburg, the shortest average commute time in New York City can be traced back to Midtown Manhattan. This neighborhood, which, according to Census data, includes both Midtown and Midtown South, boasts an average commute time of just 26 minutes. Roughly 47% of Midtown commuters spend between 15 and 30 minutes on their way to work, with less than 5% taking more than an hour to get from home to work or the other way around. 

Only two other neighborhoods outside Manhattan made our list of the 20 shortest commute times in NYC. In Brooklyn Heights-Cobble Hill, commuters spend 35 minutes on average going to work, while in Queens’ Hunters Point-Sunnyside-West Maspeth, commuters spend 36 minutes getting to work, on average. 

Brooklyn is Also Home to the NYC Neighborhood With the Longest Commute 

Brooklyn might pride itself on being home to the neighborhood with the shortest average commute time in NYC, but it also houses the neighborhood on the opposite end of the spectrum. 

According to our analysis, Starrett City is the neighborhood with the longest average commute time in New York City. Those heading to or from work in this part of Brooklyn spend an average of 64 minutes on their commutes. Following close is a neighborhood in Queens – in Hammels-Arverne-Edgemere, commuters spend 61 minutes on average getting to work or back home. 

Completing the top 5 are three neighborhoods in the Bronx. It takes an average of 56 minutes for workers in Co-Op City, Parkchester, and Eastchester-Edenwald-Baychester to get from home to work or vice versa. Commuters in these three Bronx neighborhoods have a harder time getting to and from work than those in any other borough, including Staten Island. 

Methodology

We used Census data from the 2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates and converted it from Census Tracts to Neighborhoods. Neighborhood boundaries were set according to NYC Open Data

Neighborhoods, where no data was available, were excluded from the map.

Our analysis does not include estimates for people working from home. 

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