Commute Time

How are we doing?

The average commute time in the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was 24.4 minutes in 2016. Tucson tied Las Vegas for fifth out of 12 western MSAs, among which the Salt Lake City MSA placed first at 22.5 minutes, while the Denver MSA placed last at 27.3 minutes. Tucson enjoyed slightly shorter commute times than the state of Arizona or the U.S., whose averages were 24.9 and 26.1 minutes, respectively. From 2000 to 2016, the trend in overall commute times has remained constant across Tucson, the state, and the nation.

Why is it important?

The duration of one’s journey to work is an indicator that reflects both quality of life and economic well-being. Longer commute times are often indicative of a spatial mismatch between jobs and housing - a phenomenon that can especially impact low-income households, as their geographic mobility may be limited. Long commute times can also result from high housing costs, poorly planned transportation networks, and local regulatory policies such as exclusionary zoning.

How do we compare?

In 2016, the mean commute time in the Tucson MSA was 24.4 minutes, 0.5 minutes shorter than the statewide average for Arizona at 24.9 minutes. Both Tucson and Arizona enjoy shorter commute times than the national average which was 26.1 minutes.

What are the key trends?

Commute times in the Tucson MSA, Arizona and the U.S. have seen little change since 2000. Tucson’s commute time of 24.4 minutes is shorter than Arizona or the U.S., which have remained relatively constant, near 24.9 and 26.0 minutes, respectively.

How is it measured?

Commute time data are gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates. Data reported are the mean travel time to work. Census ACS collects one-year and five-year estimates through rolling surveys, releasing results from the current sample periods annually. Note that the ACS five-year estimates are produced over a five year time period and can only be compared to non-overlapping five-year estimates (for example: 2005-2009 and 2010-2014).