Greater Boston’s Worst Commutes: More Gas, Higher Insurance and Wasted Time

Auto Insurance, Insurance
Greater Boston's Worst Commutes: More Gas, Higher Insurance and Wasted Time

Drivers waste 53 hours each year in Boston traffic, according to the most recent data from the Urban Mobility Report, which is published by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Whether they are commuting to Boston or Waltham, workers in the Boston area can expect long and expensive trips. But who faces the costliest commutes, and how does heavy traffic impact Massachusetts car insurance rates?

A new NerdWallet study has found that Malden and Quincy are the two worst places for commuters in Greater Boston. To determine how areas rank, we analyzed the two major costs associated with commuting: time and money.

Financial costs

Gas and insurance costs vary depending on where you start your commute. There is a $1,068.04 difference between the place with the most expensive average car insurance premiums—Providence, Rhode Island—and the place with the least expensive premiums—Arlington, Massachusetts.

On the other hand, gas prices are relatively constant in the Boston area. There is a 12-cent difference between the places with the cheapest and the most expensive gas — in Suffolk County, where residents pay $3.62 a gallon on average.

Time cost

In addition to car-related costs, the commute itself can have a negative impact on workers’ health, happiness and wallets. The time workers are commuting could be spent working, exercising or being with friends and family. Researchers have found that people who have long commutes have higher blood pressure and larger waistlines. And your time behind the wheel can also increase stress levels, anxiety and the likelihood of depression.

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NerdWallet found the worst suburbs for Boston-area commutes by analyzing these questions:

  1. How expensive is gas? We looked at average gas prices in each county. This made up 10% of our score.
  2. How much does insurance cost? Insurance is a major cost for commuters. Annual insurance premiums differ greatly depending on where you live, so we wanted to assess the financial burden it places on commuters. This was 15% of the score.
  3. How long are workers’ commutes? We looked at the length of the average worker’s one-way commute. This is 55% of the score.
  4. Are there many commuters? We looked at the percentage of workers in each suburb who drive alone to work, since these commuters will often face more congestion, which can lead to more time behind the wheel. This is 20% of the score.

Key findings

  • The average commute time for Boston-area drivers is 26.56 minutes both to and from work. However, Malden workers face commute times that are about 7 minutes longer, or 33.4 minutes, each way.
  • Car insurance costs vary greatly from place to place. Rhode Island drivers pay, on average, almost 44% more for car insurance than the average in the cities we surveyed.
  • Boston-area workers face vastly different commutes. Only 29.9% of workers in Cambridge drive alone to work, but in Methuen and Leominster 84.9% make the journey alone.

 

Greater Boston’s 10 worst commutes

1. Malden

Average commute time each way: 33.4 minutes
Workers driving alone: 53.8%
Average car insurance premium: $1,448.13
Average gas price per gallon: $3.59

2. Quincy

Average commute time each way: 32.3 minutes
Workers driving alone: 60.3%
Average car insurance premium: $1,199.58
Average gas price per gallon: $3.57

3. Weymouth

Average commute time each way: 30.5 minutes
Workers driving alone: 78%
Average car insurance premium: $1,076.63
Average gas price per gallon: $3.57

4. Brockton

Average commute time each way: 29.3 minutes
Workers driving alone: 77.6%
Average car insurance premium: $1,593.88
Average gas price per gallon: $3.53

5. Plymouth

Average commute time each way: 31.4 minutes
Workers driving alone: 74.4%
Average car insurance premium: $1,020.25
Average gas price per gallon: $3.53

6. Everett

Average commute time each way: 30.3 minutes
Workers driving alone: 57.2%
Average car insurance premium: $1,448.38
Average gas price per gallon: $3.59

7. Revere

Average commute time each way: 30.1 minutes
Workers driving alone: 57.9%
Average car insurance premium: $1,223.75
Average gas price per gallon: $3.62

8. Medford

Average commute time each way: 28.6 minutes
Workers driving alone: 63.4%
Average car insurance premium: $1,448.13
Average gas price per gallon: $3.59

9. Haverhill

Average commute time each way: 28.4 minutes
Workers driving alone: 80.3%
Average car insurance premium: $1,027.46
Average gas price: $3.55

10. Arlington

Average commute time each way: 29.3 minutes
Workers driving alone: 67.1%
Average car insurance premium: $896.75
Average gas price per gallon: $3.59

 

Worst commutes in Boston (the full list)

Ranking City County Average annual car insurance premiums Average commute time Percent of workers commuting alone Gas prices Commute score
1 Malden, MA Middlesex $1,448.13 33.4 53.8 $3.59 21.60
2 Quincy, MA Norfolk $1,199.58 32.3 60.3 $3.57 28.70
3 Weymouth, MA Norfolk $1,076.63 30.5 78 $3.57 31.72
4 Brockton, MA Plymouth $1,593.88 29.3 77.6 $3.53 32.61
5 Plymouth, MA Plymouth $1,020.25 31.4 74.4 $3.53 32.92
6 Everett, MA Middlesex $1,448.38 30.3 57.2 $3.59 33.49
7 Revere, MA Suffolk $1,223.75 30.1 57.9 $3.62 34.36
8 Medford, MA Middlesex $1,448.13 28.6 63.4 $3.59 38.48
9 Haverhill, MA Essex $1,027.46 28.4 80.3 $3.55 41.82
10 Arlington, MA Middlesex $896.75 29.3 67.1 $3.59 41.94
11 Attleboro, MA Bristol $935.88 29.3 80.6 $3.52 41.96
12 Lynn, MA Essex $1,511.50 27.5 68.9 $3.55 42.90
13 Salem, MA Essex $1,204.38 28.4 67 $3.55 44.08
14 Framingham, MA Middlesex $1,076.63 27.1 76.6 $3.59 45.33
15 Taunton, MA Bristol $1,075.00 27.5 83.7 $3.52 46.52
16 Boston, MA Suffolk $1,237.28 28.7 38.5 $3.62 47.03
17 Woonsocket, RI Providence $1,498.69 24.4 82.5 $3.59 48.13
18 Pawtucket, RI Providence $1,781.75 23.7 78.8 $3.59 48.43
19 Somerville, MA Middlesex $1,174.17 28.2 42 $3.59 51.66
20 Leominster, MA Worcester $1,021.00 26 84.9 $3.53 52.14
21 Brookline, MA Norfolk $1,044.75 28.9 40 $3.57 52.51
22 Lowell, MA Middlesex $1,196.88 25.1 74.6 $3.59 52.81
23 Peabody, MA Essex $1,068.13 25.2 85 $3.55 53.11
24 Methuen, MA Essex $1,066.13 25.1 84.9 $3.55 53.59
25 Newton, MA Middlesex $973.63 26.4 63.6 $3.59 54.38
26 Cranston, RI Providence $1,961.25 21 84.8 $3.59 55.19
27 Beverly, MA Essex $937.88 25.8 75.3 $3.55 55.86
28 East Providence, RI Providence $1,787.38 20.4 85.9 $3.59 59.78
29 Nashua, NH Hillsborough $1,007.58 25.2 80.9 $3.50 59.92
30 Waltham, MA Middlesex $943.50 24.2 71.4 $3.59 61.32
31 Providence, RI Providence $1,964.79 21.6 59.8 $3.59 61.53
32 Barnstable, MA Barnstable $937.13 22.3 83.1 $3.62 62.42
33 New Bedford, MA Bristol $1,293.75 23.6 75.8 $3.52 62.77
34 Lawrence, MA Essex $1,341.63 23.4 64.4 $3.55 64.24
35 Worcester, MA Worcester $1,293.50 22.9 74.9 $3.53 65.00
36 Fall River, MA Bristol $1,290.88 22.5 82 $3.52 65.25
37 Cambridge, MA Middlesex $1,109.75 24.7 29.9 $3.59 71.69

 

Methodology

The overall score for each place was calculated from the following data:

  1. One way mean travel time to work from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.
  2. Percentage of workers commuting alone by car from the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.
  3. Average gas price by county in 2014 from Gas Buddy.
  4. Average car insurance rates from NerdWallet’s Car insurance Comparison Tool.

 Boston traffic image via Shutterstock.