Talk to Atlantans who spend their mornings and evenings commuting by car, and the hair-raising anecdotes abound: Pre-pandemic traffic levels have apparently returned. With a vengeance.

A new analysis by real estate data company Clever illustrates how those horror stories might not be crazy talk, despite the work-from-home zeitgeist that was supposed to help alleviate traffic congestion in major cities like Atlanta.

Clever’s study of the best and worst U.S. cities for commuters in 2023 pegs Atlanta as a bottom-five finisher in terms of hellacious, expensive, time-consuming commutes—one spot worse than, gulp, Los Angeles.

Pulling from varied data sources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the Brookings Institute, INRIX, GasBuddy, and, Clever’s analysis focused on a range of metrics for the 50 most-populated metros in America.

Clever Real Estate

Categories included: one-way commute distances in miles; public transit scores; annual vehicle maintenance costs and insurance premiums; annual fuel costs; and hours lost each year to traffic, among others.  

Clever’s findings showed Atlanta ranked as the third worst commuter city in America, followed only by Chicago and Houston, respectively. (On a positive note, that’s one spot higher than ATL's 2022’s ranking.)

Analysts found that metro Atlantans spend an average of 22 percent of their incomes on commuting costs. That equates to $10,138 annually—an 8.4 percent increase from last year.

A snapshot of the study's top 10 best commutes among America's largest 50 cities. Clever Real Estate

Per the study, the average one-way commute in metro Atlanta is 12.8 miles. But those commutes take on average 32 minutes to tackle each way, equating to about 74 hours stuck in traffic annually.

Put another way, that’s longer than the equivalent of an entire three-day weekend stuck in cars around Atlanta each year.  

The study also found that 81 percent of Atlanta workers commute by car—and just 2 percent use public transit. These days, about 13 percent of metro Atlantans work from home, significantly lower than the national average for cities, according to Clever.

Clever Real Estate

Big picture, analysts determined Salt Lake City is the best metro for commuters in the U.S., where just 12 hours annually are sacrificed to gridlock.

Across the country, COVID-19 appears to have increased the number of Americans favoring car-commuting over public transit, for which cities have made only “modest improvements” recently. Roughly 27 percent of the U.S. workforce currently works from home, according to Clever’s study.


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