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20 Best and Worst Commuter Cities in Kansas

Best Commuter Cities in Kansas

Kansas is the sixth most affordable state to live in. It also offers a range of employment opportunities from careers in energy technology to jobs in agriculture. Plus, the Kansas highway system ranks as one of the best in the country, which could be one reason it’s the eighth best state for commuters.

These achievements are certainly commendable, as is the fact that the average worker in the state’s 20 best commuter cities spends just 14 minutes getting to their job. That’s 45 percent faster than most Americans, who commute an average of 25.2 minutes one way.

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To create our best commuter cities list, we analyzed traffic data from the most recent U.S. Census Bureau survey and then identified cities with a population of 3,000 residents or more at the time of the survey.

How Commute Length Affects Auto Insurance Premiums

A long commute can be stressful, but many people aren’t aware it can also increase their car insurance premium. On the other hand, a short drive to work is usually less taxing and can help you qualify for a more competitive auto insurance rate. These are a few reasons the best commuter cities in the Sunflower State deserve recognition.

An insurance agent will usually ask how far you commute before giving you an auto insurance quote. That’s because the longer your commute, the greater the chance you’ll be involved in an accident. As a result, your car insurance company may charge you more for your premium than someone who spends less time getting to the office.

If your commute gets longer, your insurance premium could go up by as much as $10 per month. To find out how the distance you travel to and from work may impact your premium, contact your Kansas auto insurance company.

How Commute Length Affects Quality of Life,

A number of studies point to the fact that a long commute can affect your quality of life.

      • Thomas James Christian of Brown University reportsthat every minute a person commutes to work means less time spent on healthy activities such as resting, exercising, and preparing meals.
      • According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California–Los Angeles and California State University–Long Beach, the number of miles driven each day had a more significant connection to obesity than any other factor analyzed.
      • Social geographer Erika Sandow foundthat when one partner in a marriage commutes longer than 45 minutes a day, the chance the relationship will end in divorce increases by 40 percent.
      • Political scientist Robert Putnam discoveredthat people experience 10 percent fewer social connections for every 10 minutes they spend commuting.
      • A Gallup Poll found that people who commute more than 90 minutes to work are at an increased risk for chronic neck and back pain.
      • The poll also discovered that workers who have a long commute are more likelyto be tired and worried and less likely to feel enjoyment than those who have a short drive to work.

A lower car insurance premium is one possible benefit of a short commute, but it’s clearly not the only one. If you face a long commute, take inspiration from the 20 best commuter cities in Kansas and think about how you might shorten your own commute.

The 20 Best Commuter Cities in Kansas

Best Commuter Cities in Kansas

#1 – Beloit

The best commuter city on our list boasts a growing business base. Over the last five years, more than 20 new businesses have come to town, 18 have expanded, and a range of incentives are prompting further development. As a result, the city’s employment opportunities are diversifying, which means locals have a good chance of finding work close to home. This could be why the average Beloit resident gets to their job 55 percent faster than most Americans and 85 percent spend less than 15 minutes on their commute each day.

Beloit - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#2 – Colby

Residents of Colby commute for a mere 12 minutes each way, which is 13 minutes less than workers in most U.S. cities. To put that into perspective, Colby residents spend two hours per week getting to and from their jobs whereas the average American spends more than four hours. Soon, Colby workers may enjoy even shorter commutes: Colby’s transportation task force proposed the creation of city-wide walking and bicycling paths that could encourage residents to leave their cars at home and further minimize vehicle traffic.

Colby - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#3 – Concordia

More than 90 percent of respondents to Concordia’s citizen survey rated the city as a “good to excellent” place to live and raise kids. In addition to being family friendly, Concordia is a great place to start or grow a business. Through CloudCorp, a county-wide economic development agency, Concordia entrepreneurs have access to a revolving loan fund that can help finance their startup. Other economic perks encourage business development near Highway 81, a major north-south transportation route. Initiatives like these could increase local job opportunities and reduce Concordia’s already enviable average commute of 12.2 minutes each way.

Concordia - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#4 – Goodland

The Goodland Work Center helps residents find local jobs at places like Frontier Ag, Sun Opta, or the Goodland Regional Medical Center, a few of the city’s key employers. This could be one reason 93 percent of Goodland residents spend 29 minutes or less behind the wheel for their commute each day.

Goodland - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#5 – Marysville

The Marysville website allows citizens to submit questions and concerns to city leaders about any community-related topic, from economic development to traffic flow. Open communication like this helps city officials and citizens work as a team to ensure Marysville offers a superior quality of life. As a result, many people who live in Marysville also choose to work there, which is one reason they enjoy an average one-way commute of 12.7 minutes.

Marysville - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#6 – Hugoton

Hugoton is an appealing place to raise a family and launch a career. According to the most recent data, Hugoton reported less than one violent crime per 1,000 people to law enforcement in 2013. In addition to nominal crime, locals also enjoy access to a variety of employment opportunities in health care, construction, and the natural gas industry. Hugoton’s diverse economy is one reason 76 percent of its residents get to work in less than 15 minutes and a mere 1.31 percent commute for more than 60 minutes.

Hugoton - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#7 – Pratt

Pratt’s nearly 300 acres of parks and recreation facilities make it family friendly, but it’s also pro-business. For example, the Prairie Parkway Business Park and Pratt Airport Industrial Park provide enhanced technology features that draw in new businesses and help established ones stay competitive. As a result, Pratt locals don’t have to drive far to find employment. In fact, nine out of 10 workers commute for 29 minutes or less each day.

Pratt - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#8 – Hays

We are impressed with this city’s progressive transportation initiative, “Bike Hays.” According to the Bike Hays Master Plan, the goal of the initiative is to increase the number of people who use a bicycle for recreation, as well as transportation. Currently, eight in 10 city residents get to work in less than 15 minutes, but as more people take advantage of Bike Hays this number could increase.

Hays - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#9 – Larned

Larned residents have access to resources offered through Pawnee County, which is a NetWork Kansas E-community. This designation allows the Pawnee County Economic Development Commission to administer low-interest loans that help business leaders do everything from purchase land to procure equipment. Progressive programs like this make Larned an appealing place for business, which gives locals the opportunity to work close to home. As a result, the average Larned resident commutes for a mere 14 minutes each way.

Larned - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#10 – Russell

Russell is situated near the center of the state, which provides logistical opportunities for businesses. It’s also close to Interstate 70 and Union Pacific rail lines and boasts a modern airport. Russell’s well-developed transportation infrastructure attracts and retains businesses in industries like agriculture, oil production, and health care. Whether they work in one of these fields or another, the typical Russell resident gets to work 43 percent faster than most Americans.

Russell - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#11 – Independence

Independence is located in Montgomery County, an industrial hub of Southeast Kansas. The county’s Action Council provides Independence businesses with loans, education, and other assistance to help them succeed. Support like this could be why the city maintains a healthy mix of industries, which enables many residents to work locally. It might also be why Independence draws in over 200,000 out-of-town workers daily, making the city’s average one-way commute of 14.7 minutes even more impressive.

Independence - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#12 – Parsons

Parsons boasts impressive home building and revitalization incentives. The city’s Free Land Program provides qualifying participants with a lot on which to build a house or duplex at no charge. Parsons also offers grants of up to $7,500 to make home improvements. The city’s housing initiatives encourage people who work in Parsons to settle there too, which could by why most residents get to their place of employment in half the time it takes the average American.

Parsons - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#13 – Lyons

In addition to Lyons’ strategic central-Kansas location, some sites at the city’s industrial park are available to businesses at no charge. Perks like these encourage new business development, and that gives residents a better chance at finding a job close to home. Whether they choose to work locally or in a nearby town, over 15 percent of the city’s residents carpool to work. Fewer cars on the road could be one reason seven out of 10 residents get to work in less than 15 minutes.

Lyons - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#14 – Chanute

Chanute is known as a leader in the development of municipal-owned broadband infrastructure. Its gigabit fiber-optic network delivers fast, reliable Internet to homes, businesses, and anchor institutions like the hospital and public library. Free Wi-Fi is also available at key locations throughout the city. With fiber-optic speed at their disposal, we are not surprised that compared to the average city on our list, 22 percent more Chanute residents work from home.

Chanute - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#15 – Scott City

Scott City offers new and well-established businesses a range of economic benefits. It’s also a NetWork Kansas E-Community, which means it’s dedicated to cultivating an environment that helps citizens launch or grow their business. Whether locals want to work for themselves or at one of the city’s major employers, there’s an 86 percent chance they’ll commute for 29 minutes or less each day.

Scott City - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#16 – Emporia

Emporia is a growing manufacturing hub of east central Kansas. Last year, Hostess Brands’ Emporia plant reopened, creating more than 300 jobs. Leaders of H.J. Baker, a global agriculture company, recently announced construction of a multimillion dollar facility in Emporia, and local company VEKTEK won the 2015 Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award. With so much going for it, many Emporia residents choose to work in their city, which is one reason seven in 10 get to their place of employment in less than 15 minutes.

Emporia - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#17 – Salina

Salina has a lot to offer families. ranked it as the “Best Place in Kansas to Raise Kids” due to school test scores, low cost of living, and nominal crime. Plus, parents enjoy a variety of career opportunities at major corporations like Schwan Food Company, Phillips Lighting, and Exide Battery. Best yet, the city’s bus system gives workers the chance to leave their cars parked at home, which helps reduce traffic congestion. This may be one reason nearly 93 percent of Salina’s residents commute 29 minutes or less per day.

Salina - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#18 – Liberal

Liberal has a 1.23 “trade pull factor,” which signifies it’s pulling in business rather than losing it to other cities. This means residents may have a good chance of finding local employment. Whether they choose to work in Liberal or a nearby town, an impressive 22 percent of residents carpool to their jobs. That’s the highest percentage of any city on our list and more than twice the national average.

Liberal - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#19 – Ulysses

Ulysses is situated in the southwest corner of Kansas, at the intersection of Route 25 and Highway 160. Its location makes commuting to another city viable, but many residents stick close to home for employment — and the Grant County Chamber of Commerce helps ensure there are plenty of businesses to work for. When it’s time to head to their job, nearly 15 percent of residents carpool, which is 50 percent more than the national carpooling rate.

Ulysses - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

#20 – Pittsburg

Pittsburg State University’s Business and Technology Institute and the Alliance for Technology Commercialization provide supervisory and financial assistance to an array of businesses in high-tech fields. Programs like these help support Pittsburg’s economic growth and prosperity, and that’s good news for workers who want to find local employment. With all this going for it, it’s no wonder most Pittsburg residents enjoy a commute that’s 10 minutes faster than the national average.

Pittsburg - Best Commuter Cities Kansas

15 Worst Commuter Cities in Kansas

Compared to the best commuter cities in Kansas, the average drive to work in the worst commuter cities takes 10 minutes longer. But, at 24.7 minutes, their one-way commute is still slightly faster than most Americans.

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To determine the rankings, Obrella analyzed traffic data from the 2013 survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Considering only New Mexico cities whose population exceeded 3,000 at the time of this report, Obrella analysts sorted cities by average commute time and used other available data points to help visualize the breakdown of commute types and commute lengths. Please contact [email protected] with any questions about this report.

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