Well, not quite, compared to 470 other major cities across the country. A group from the Texas AandM Transportation Institute and from travel analysis group INRIX Inc. recently ranked metropolitan areas nationwide, to measure which cities featured the worst workday commutes for drivers.
Rochester nabbed 59th place — not terrible compared to other major cities, but also not really great.
According to the Rochester Business Journal, the average Rochester commuter spends 39 hours in rush hour traffic each year, which results in 20 gallons of wasted gas per commuter. To put this in perspective, the city with the worst rush hour traffic congestion is Washington, D.C. There, drivers who commute to work waste an average of 82 hours and 35 gallons of gas, per year, sitting in traffic.
Because time is money, the 2015 Urban Mobility Report then took this data and figured out how much this traffic congestion is incurring in financial losses for American workers, and the results are pretty surprising. Out of three trillion miles of travel over the past year, Americans wasted 6.9 billion hours sitting in traffic jams, which results in 3.1 billion gallons of wasted gasoline and $160 billion spent on that wasted fuel.
Based on these numbers, the average commuter in Rochester wasted $889 in 2014 because of traffic congestion.
The Washington Post recently reported, however, that this trend isn’t necessarily bad. Sure, there’s the problem of worsening environmental impacts, which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. But the traffic is also a sign that the economy is growing stronger.
If unemployment was the same in 2014 as it was in 2008, rush hour traffic wouldn’t be nearly as bad as this recent study found it to be. Many cities have begun bolstering their public transportation options, while private businesses recognized that nearly one in every six American workers has changed jobs simply because of a bad commute, and many workplaces now offer telecommuting options to reduce attrition.
For Rochester, that seems like some pretty good news. It also seems to correlate with a recent study conducted by a data analysis group based in South Carolina, which evaluated 405 cities across the country for their overall economic strength and for each city’s environmental friendliness for entrepreneurs.
With an unemployment rate of 4.10% — one of the top 10 cities with the lowest unemployment rates rated in the study — Rochester is the 23rd best city for female entrepreneurs and provides one of the best professional environments across the country for minority entrepreneurs in particular.