40 Best and Worst Commuter Cities in Pennsylvania
On average, Pennsylvania workers commute 51 minutes each workday, which is about the national average. But we found 40 cities in the Keystone State where residents spend much less time fighting rush hour.
The average commute time of the best commuter cities in Pennsylvania is 19 minutes one way, which is 25 percent less than the U.S. average. More than 85 percent of those who call the best commuter cities home get to the office in 29 minutes or less. Plus, among the cities on our list the percentage of mega-commuters is only three percent, which is nearly one third of the national average.
A significant number of Pennsylvania’s best commuter cities are located near metropolitan areas, such as Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, and Harrisburg, but we found commuter-friendly cities in every region of the state.
Why is this important? On top of increasing stress levels and impacting overall well being, many people aren’t aware that a long commute may increase their auto insurance premium. The good news is, workers who have short commutes may enjoy more competitive rates and pay less each year for car insurance, and that’s why we’re recognizing the best commuter cities in Pennsylvania.
To establish which cities made the 40 Best Commuter Cities in Pennsylvania list, Obrella examined traffic data from the most recent U.S. Census Bureau survey and identified the cities in Pennsylvania with a population of more than 10,000 residents at the time of the 2013 Census Survey.
How Commute Length Affects Auto Insurance Premiums
When you talk with an insurance agent, they’ll ask you how far you drive to get to work. That’s because the more time you spend on the road, the greater the chance you’ll be involved in an accident. And increased risk means you’ll pay a higher auto insurance premium. When you shop for auto insurance, it’s important to provide the agent with an accurate estimate on how far you commute, and let your insurance provider know if your commute shortens or lengthens.
If a job change or move to a new town increases your commute, your monthly insurance premium could go up by as much as $10 per month. To find out how the length of your commute may be impacting your auto insurance premiums, contact your car insurance company in Pennsylvania.
How Commute Length Affects Quality of Life
In addition to spending more on auto insurance, there are a number of ways a lengthy commute can have a negative impact on your quality of life.
- Research carried out by the University of California Los Angeles and California State University Long Beach, revealed that the number of miles driven each day had a stronger correlation with obesity than any other factor analyzed.
- A Swedish study reveals that when one partner in a marriage spends 45 minutes or more commuting, the relationship is 40 percent more likely to end in divorce.
- A Gallup Poll found that commuters who spend more than 90 minutes getting to work have an increased risk for neck problems and chronic back pain.
- When compared with those who have shorter commutes, people with longer commutes are more likely to feel tired, experience greater worry, and less enjoyment.
- Robert Putnam, a Political Scientist, discovered that people who endure long commutes have fewer “social connections.” Putnam noted that a person’s social connections are reduced by 10 percent for every 10 minutes they spend behind the wheel.
- Research from Thomas James Christian of Brown University states that every minute of a commute is associated with a reduction in time spent exercising, preparing meals, and resting.
Whether you’re looking to save money on auto insurance, improve your health, or both, it’s time to start thinking about ways to shorten your commute. Get inspired by these 40 cities in Pennsylvania where residents enjoy a commute that’s shorter than the state and national average.
The 40 Best Commuter Cities in Pennsylvania
#1 – St. Marys
St. Marys is surrounded by a number of state owned game lands and forests. Its rather isolated location means most residents stick close to home when it comes to work. Health care and social assistance are two of the largest employment sectors in St. Marys. OSRAM Sylvania, Straub Brewery, and MexAmerica Foods are a few of the community’s biggest manufacturers. If you’d like to leave your car at home, the Area Transportation Authority (ATA) provides public transportation service to and from several local communities.
Make St. Marys your home and there’s a 91 percent chance you’ll enjoy a commute of 29 minutes or less. In fact, the average St. Marys worker spends a mere 15 minutes behind the wheel before they get to work. That means St. Marys’ locals get to work 40 percent faster than the typical American. Congratulations to St. Marys for earning recognition as the best commuter city in Pennsylvania.
#2 – State College
Located in central Pennsylvania, State College is a city of roughly 40,000 residents. Home to well-respected Penn State University, we weren’t surprised to learn that 40 percent of State College’s residents have a bachelors, masters, or doctorate degree. As you might expect, Penn State is the area’s largest employer.
The local mass transit system, CATABUS, provides reliable transportation, which could be one reason why a greater percentage of workers in State College use mass transit than any other city on our list. Less cars on the road reduces traffic congestion, which helps the average State College resident get to the office in 15 minutes, and a whopping 92 percent of commuters get to work in 29 minutes or less.
#3 – Meadville
Located in Northwest Pennsylvania, Meadville is a quaint community where neighbors know each other by name. It’s also a great place to start or relocate a business.
In addition to earning a top spot on our best commuter cities of Pennsylvania list, Meadville’s wealth of small businesses and bustling downtown earned it recognition as one of “The Best Places for Small Business in the Northeast.”
More than 65 percent of workers who call Meadville home have a commute that’s less than 15 minutes, which is the second highest percentage of all the cities on our list.
#4 – Loyalsock Township
Loyalsock Township’s motto is “The Place to Live,” and it’s also a great place to work. Settle in Loyalsock and there’s a 9 in 10 chance you’ll get from home to work in less than 29 minutes. In addition to a nominal commute, you’ll also appreciate Loyalsock Township’s low crime rate. Plus, the cost of living in Loyalsock Township is 20 percent less than the U.S. average.
#5 – Indiana
Indiana is roughly one hour from larger cities, such as Altoona and Pittsburg, which means most Indiana residents work locally. Home of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, it’s understandable that the overwhelming majority of Indiana workers are employed in the field of education, and 86 percent of its workforce hold white-collar jobs.
Other major Indiana employers include Indiana Regional Medical Center, Diamond Drugs and Halliburton Energy Services. Indiana earns our kudos for the highest percentage of workers who commute for less than 15 minutes, at nearly 69 percent.
#6 – Bloomsburg
Situated along the banks of the Susquehanna River, the historic community of Bloomsburg boasts small-town charm and unmatched hospitality. It also offers easy access to Route 11 and Interstate 80, so commuters who choose to work in neighboring communities have an easy commute.
Those who choose to work locally enjoy diverse employment options. Bloomsburg University and Geisinger-Bloomsburg Hospital are two of the area’s largest employers, and Bloomsburg’s vibrant downtown is perfect for entrepreneurs looking to set up shop.
All this, plus Bloomsburg residents spend 50 percent less time behind the wheel than the average American.
#7 – Richland Township (Cambria County)
Small, yet part of a metropolitan statistical area that includes nearly 250,000 people, Richland Township offers the best of urban and rural life. Known for family-friendly neighborhoods, low crime and a diverse economic base, “Money Magazine” recognized the Richland Township area as the number one most livable area in Pennsylvania and the fourth most livable in the Northeast.
Top Richland Township employers include Conemaugh Health System and the state and local government. Only three percent of Richland Township residents endure a commute of 60 minutes or more, which is less than half the national average.
#8 – Williamsport
Williamsport is the largest city in North Central Pennsylvania and one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in America. The city has a reputation as a creative community that’s alive with burgeoning artists. It also boasts stunning Victorian architecture, a robust downtown, and an average commute that’s seven minutes faster than the typical U.S. city. Almost 6 in 10 workers get to the office in less than 15 minutes, and an impressive 14 percent carpool.
We’re not the only ones who think Williamsport has a lot to offer. Williamsport earned several accolades, which include being consistently named as one of the top 300 places to live in the United States.
#9 – Sharon
Sharon residents enjoy affordable, quality housing and access to a variety of jobs in the healthcare, manufacturing, and service sectors. The city is situated close to the Ohio border, midway between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and only minutes from three Interstates. Over a month’s duration, the typical Sharon worker spends almost five hours less commuting than the average American worker.
In addition to good commute times, Sharon residents take pride in their outstanding schools. Sharon’s elementary schools have outperformed 99.74 percent of their peers across the country, and have been honored with the National Blue Ribbon School Award by the U.S. Department of Education.
#10 – Patton Township
Patton Township’s population increased by 34 percent from 2000 to 2010, but that hasn’t lengthened commute times.
One reason the folks who live in Patton Township enjoy short commutes could be due to the fact that almost seven percent of workers don’t even have to start their car, as they work at home. That’s the highest percentage on our list. Add in the fact that a remarkable 20 percent of workers either carpool or use mass transit to get to work, and it’s easy to see why 91 percent of Patton Township commuters spend less than 29 minutes on the road.
#11 – Ferguson Township (Centre County)
Open spaces, culture, and safe neighborhoods are a few things Ferguson Township citizens cherish about their hometown.
A variety of commuting options is another perk of living in this Centre County community. That’s because Ferguson Township maintains a number of bikeways and multi-use paths that join neighborhoods with the community’s business center. In fact, the Centre County area is recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community.
CATABUS mass transit system offers Ferguson Township workers an affordable and reliable alternative to driving to work. Almost six percent of Ferguson Township residents take advantage of mass transit to get to work, which is the third highest percentage on our list.
#12 – Erie
Erie’s downtown district is the perfect place to settle if you’d prefer walking to work than getting behind the wheel. With more than 100,000 residents, Erie is the most populated city on our list, but commuters still get to work 25 percent faster than their typical U.S. peer, and an impressive 14 percent carpool.
Lake Erie sunsets, meandering trails, and plenty of green space only add to Erie’s distinctive downtown attractions. Recently, the Erie region has enjoyed growth in the tourism, healthcare, and insurance industries. General Electric, Erie Indemnity Company and UPMC Hamot (a medical center) are a few of Erie’s largest employers.
#13 – Carlisle
Carlisle is flanked by Interstate 81 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and it’s just 20 miles from the much larger city of Harrisburg. Its location makes commuting to other cities a breeze, but with all that Carlisle has to offer, who would want to? Make Carlisle your home sweet home and there’s a 55 percent chance your commute will last less than 15 minutes.
Boasting a historic downtown, affordable housing, and cultural opportunities that rival much larger cities, Carlisle is an all-American community with a lot to offer. From mom and pop shops to major corporations, and technology-based firms to retail, those who live in Carlisle have access to a wealth of career opportunities.
#14 – Hazleton
Situated at the foothills of the Pocono Mountains, Hazleton is a recreation enthusiast’s dream. It’s also close to Interstates 80 and 81, which means New York City and Philadelphia are only a few hours away. The Greater Hazleton area is home to some of the country’s most well-known companies, like Amazon, which employs approximately 2,000 Hazelton area residents.
With all Hazelton residents have to see and do, it’s a good thing they don’t waste much time getting to or from work. One third of workers make it to the job in less than 29 minutes, and 13 either carpool or use mass transit to make the trip.
#15 – Logan Township (Blair County)
Logan Township has a lot to offer. For starters, Logan Township children have access to a public school system with a reputation for innovation and excellence, and parents enjoy access to diverse employment opportunities. Thanks to its unique location in Central Pennsylvania, Logan Township residents can work locally, in Altoona, or jump on Interstate 99 and enjoy a short commute to another nearby town.
#16 – Millcreek Township (Erie County)
As the gateway to Presque Isle State Park and home to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, Millcreek Township offers active families plenty to do. In addition to a variety of outdoor pursuits, residents also enjoy nominal crime, reasonable home prices and good schools. Millcreek Township’s high quality of life earned it a spot on “Money Magazine’s” list of the “100 Best Places to Live in America” on more than one occasion.
Millcreek Township is one of the most populated cities on our list as well as one of the best cities to live in if you want to get to work fast. An impressive 90 percent of locals spend less than 15 minutes commuting.
#17 – Dunmore
Dunmore is a great place to live if you’re looking for the best mix of big city amenities, job opportunities, and small town charm. More perks of calling Dunmore home include low crime, high graduation rates and an affordable cost of living. Dunmore earns our praise for its high percentage of carpoolers. Almost 12 percent of Dunmore residents share a ride to work, which is 20 percent more than the average city on our list.
#18 – White Township (Indiana County)
Situated in Western Pennsylvania, White Township is part of bustling Indiana County. Major employers, like First Commonwealth Bank, S&T Bank, Diamond Drugs, and Indiana Regional Medical Center, are based in Indiana County and offer residents a variety of employment opportunities.
Whether you’re starting a career or launching a business, White Township is a great place to live, work, and play. Make it your hometown and there’s a 6 in 10 chance you’ll get to the office in less than 15 minutes, so you’ll have a better chance to spend quality time doing the things you enjoy.
#19 – Washington
The conveniences of a modern commercial center and the ambiance of a small town living blend together perfectly in Washington. Located in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Interstates 70 and 79 are easy to access and allow locals the chance to work in neighboring communities without enduring a long commute. On average, Washington residents get from home to their workplace 25 percent faster than residents of the average U.S. community, and a respectable 13 percent either carpool or use mass transit.
#20 – Altoona
Altoona is big on business. In addition to being honored by “Inc. Magazine” as one of the “Best Small Metros to do Business,” Altoona is part of the I99 Innovation Corridor, which is working to further stimulate growth in a number of high tech sectors. Some major corporations, like Sheetz, a convenience store chain, are based in Altoona, and jobs in education and healthcare are common.
More than 13 percent of Altoona workers carpool, and Amtran offers commuters the convenience of mass transit. However they chose to get there, 87 percent of Altoona workers make the trip to work in 29 minutes or less.
#21 – Scranton
Over the last decade, Scranton has invested almost $300 million into a variety of economic and civic projects and developments and it’s paid off in a big way. Scranton’s economy has diversified and expanded. Today, nearly 25 percent of the city’s employed population works in education, healthcare, and the social services industry. Defense contractors, construction and tourism are growing industries.
A blooming economy is one reason why Scranton received a great deal of praise over the last few years, including being named one of America’s “Fastest-Recovering Cities,” one of the “10 Fastest Growing Real Estate Markets in the Country,” and the “Best Place to Raise Your Kids in Pennsylvania.”
Scranton residents deserve recognition for their carpooling efforts too. Over 14 percent of the workforce carpools, which is the second highest percentage among Pennsylvania’s best commuter cities.
#22 – Spring Garden Township
Located in south central Pennsylvania, Spring Garden Township surrounds the much more populated city of York. It’s also adjacent to Interstate 83 and U.S. Route 30, which run north-south and east-west respectively. York Hospital, local, state and federal government and Giant Food Stores are three of the region’s largest employers. Those who want to launch their own business in Spring Garden Township will find a wealth of support from the York County Economic Alliance. Short commutes, high per pupil spending, and a low cost of living round out the reasons why people who move to Spring Garden Township don’t regret it.
#23 – Oil City
Noted by Movoto as one of the “Ten Best Places to Retire in Pennsylvania” Oil City is popular with retirees, but it’s also perfect for those who are still active in the workforce. In fact, the city experienced nine percent growth in employment from 2009 to 2012.
Roughly 15 percent of Oil Town workers either carpool or use mass transit to get to their workplace, and only 2.5 percent of workers commute for more than 60 minutes. That’s half the national average.
#24 – Muhlenberg Township
Muhlenberg Township is on a mission to create an inviting environment that encourages people to live, work, and play locally. Over the last few years, Muhlenberg Township enjoyed significant economic development, especially in the manufacturing, environmental and financial industries. Moreover, from 2010 to 2013, roughly 40 businesses opened or expanded their presence in the Township.
All this, plus Muhlenberg Township is involved in the Fifth Street Highway/Allentown Pike Corridor Revitalization Plan which will strategically alter the dynamics of the area and strengthen its retail environment.
If you want to settle down in a community with a promising future and spend a minimal amount of time on the road, Muhlenberg Township fits the bill.
#25 – Wilkes-Barre
Optimistic, strong, and forward thinking are a few ways to describe the Northeastern Pennsylvania city of Wilkes-Barre. Affordable is another; According to BusinessWeek.com, Wilkes-Barre is one of the “Most Affordable Housing Markets in the U.S.” Parents who are considering relocating to Wilkes-Barre will be happy to hear that two of its high schools have been included on “U.S. News and World Report’s” list of “Best High Schools.”
Workers in Wilkes-Barre deserve a shout-out for keeping cars off the road by carpooling. Over 14 percent of Wilkes-Barre locals carpool, which is the fourth highest rate on our list.
#26 – Kingston
Located across the Susquehanna River from Wilkes-Barre and less than 20 miles south of Scranton, Kingston is part of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro Area. Jobs in education, supermarkets, and warehousing are popular here, and the medical and surgical industry employs more than three percent of Kingston locals.
Those who move to Kingston are pleased that the Municipality offers a home buyer’s incentive program. For those who are eligible, the program provides a one year family membership to the Kingston Recreation Center and a seasonal pass the Kingston pool.
Kingston residents commute for one hour less per week than the average American. Over the course of one year, that works out to be two days!
#27 – Berwick
Entrepreneurs will appreciate Berwick’s many business perks, which include lucrative tax benefits. Plus, the Berwick Industrial Development Association is there to help business owners identify sources for financial assistance, select a site for their business, and more. A cost of living that’s 11 percent lower than the state average and a low violent crime rate are more reasons Berwick a smart choice for those who want to relocate or launch their business.
The residents of Berwick deserve credit for their carpooling efforts; nearly 15 percent workers share the ride to work. York is the only city on our list to have a higher percentage of carpoolers.
#28 – Hermitage
The Western Pennsylvania city of Hermitage is a Keystone State gem. Boasting abundant recreational facilities, high incomes, low crime, and close proximity to a number of job markets, Hermitage’s high quality of life hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, CreditDonkey named Hermitage the number one city on its list of the “10 Best Cities to Live in Pennsylvania.”
Eight in 10 Hermitage workers can get from home to the workplace in 29 minutes or less, and roughly half its workers enjoy a commute that’s less than 15 minutes.
#29 – Johnstown
Johnstown is a progressive community located in the Laurel Mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania. Scenic beauty, good schools, and family-friendly neighborhoods are a few reasons why approximately 22,000 people call Johnstown home.
More than 18 percent of Johnstown locals either carpool or use mass transit to get to work, which is the third highest percentage on our 40 Best Commuter Cities of Pennsylvania list.
#30 – Upper Allen Township
You know what they say about location, and Upper Allen Township has it. The Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 15 dissect Upper Allen Township, which helps alleviate congestion on secondary roads during rush hour. Another benefit of Upper Allen Township’s location is that it’s close to several of the state’s booming cities, including Carlisle.
More than four percent of Upper Allen Township citizens work from home, which is almost twice the rate of the typical city on our list. And, just over two percent of Upper Allen Township workers travel for 60 minutes or longer to get to the office, which is three quarters less than the national average and one third less than the average of the cities on our list.
#31 – Lower Allen Township
We were thrilled to find out that the Township is served by the Commuter Services of Pennsylvania, a non-profit organization that helps workers consider alternatives to driving alone to work. From carpooling to bicycling, riding mass transit to walking, the organization promotes using “green commute modes” to improve air quality and help workers save money. Resident’s use of alternative commuting methods may be why they spend nearly one hour less per week commuting than the typical American.
#32 – Plains Township
Plains Township is centrally located in the Wyoming Valley and considered part of the metropolitan area of Wilkes-Barre. It’s a residential as well as commercial community, where jobs in healthcare are common. In fact, two of the area’s major employers are the Wilkes-Barre VA Hospital and Geisinger Medical Center.
Plains Township offers residents convenient access to Interstate 81, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and three state routes, which no doubt helps keep commute times to a minimum. It’s great to see that 8 out of 10 Plains Township residents get to work in less than 29 minutes.
#33 – Susquehanna Township (Dauphin County)
Short commutes, a progressive public safety department and robust park and recreation programming could be a few reasons why Susquehanna Township’s population increased by more than 11 percent from 2000 to 2010. To put that into perspective, as a whole Pennsylvania’s population only grew by three percent over the same time period.
Susquehanna Township nearly surrounds the city of Harrisburg, which means residents have a great deal of employment options. Whether they stay local or commute to Harrisburg or another nearby city, the average Susquehanna Township worker spends less than 21 minutes behind the wheel.
#34 – Harborcreek Township
Seven miles of Lake Erie frontage, a wealth of recreation, and easy access to the large city of Erie are just a few reasons why nearly 20,000 people happily call Harborcreek Township home. The leaders of the Township are taking proactive steps to maintain the high quality of life in the community, which is illustrated by the low cost of living, positive home appreciation rates, and significant population growth.
An enviable 86 percent of Harborcreek Township residents get from their driveway to their workplace in 29 minutes or less. Plus, less than one percent commute for 45 to 59 minutes and a mere 2.97 percent commute for longer than 60 minutes.
#35 – Swatara Township (Dauphin County)
Swatara Township is located in the growing county of Dauphin and the Township residents enjoy a diverse mix of employment options. Public administration, healthcare, education, and construction are the major industries in Swatara Township.
When it comes to commuting, 13 percent of Swatara Township residents carpool or use mass transit, and 84 percent drive alone. Regardless of how they choose to get to work, the average Swatara Township worker commutes for 20.7 minutes, which is five minutes less than the typical Pennsylvanian.
#36 – Hanover Township (Luzerne County)
Situated in Northeastern Pennsylvania, along the banks of the Susquehanna River, you’ll find Hanover Township. A stable and forward thinking community, Hanover Township offers easy access to Harrisburg’s big city amenities, yet maintains a small town vibe that’s hard to find these days.
Roughly 4 out of 10 Hanover Township workers spend less than 15 minutes commuting to and from work, and 8 in 10 make the trip from home to work in 29 minutes or less.
#37 – New Castle
A friendly, safe community that boasts a highly rated school system, New Castle is a great place to live if you want to spend more time with your family and less time fighting traffic. More than 13 percent of New Castle residents carpool or use mass transit to get to work, and 52 percent enjoy a commute of less than 15 minutes.
Not only are there several major highways that run through or near New Castle, it’s also less than one hour from Pittsburg. Plus, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll be pleased to know that New Castle’s Department of Community Development offers business owners an array of financial and relocation services and well established enterprise zones offer tax incentives.
#38 – East Lampeter Township
Annually, the typical East Lampeter Township resident spends 32 hours less time commuting than the average American worker. And the residents of East Lampeter Township don’t have to drive far to find employment. In fact, Lancaster County is known for its diverse economy and variety of business sectors which include pharmaceutical production, agribusiness and food processing.
#39 – York
Offering a cost of living that’s 12 percent lower than the Keystone State’s average, York’s affordability and proximity to a number of major markets make it prime for new business. Rest assured, if you want to open a business you’ll get plenty of help in York. In addition to a number of economic incentives, business owners can also benefit from the York Business Academy. A joint effort by the City of York and York College of Pennsylvania, the Academy provides business owners with information on the region’s current economic climate, what they can do to help their venture succeed, and more.
Those who prefer a traditional career path may find work at Wellspan Health, York County Government, or Harley-Davidson, which are the area’s three major employers.
We congratulate York residents for their carpooling efforts. More than 17 percent of York workers carpool, which is by far the highest percentage on our list. In fact, it’s 40 percent higher than the average city on our list and the national average. Moreover, 4.60 percent of York residents use mass transit; only four other best commuter cities in Pennsylvania have a higher rate of mass transit users.
#40 – Hampden Township
Hampden Township’s tag line is “where people come first” and it certainly lives up to this. From preschool programs to summer camps, a community pool to special events, moms and dads will appreciate Hampden Township’s commitment to families.
Make the move to the charming community of Hampden Township and you’ll spend less time commuting and more time getting out and staying active with your family. Hampden Township is situated between Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg and dissected by Interstates 81 and 83, so residents enjoy short, easy commutes. In fact, 8 out of 10 locals get to their workplace in 29 minutes or less.
Which are the Worst Commuter Cities in Pennsylvania?
Whether it’s because they want to live near family, get a better paying job, or enjoy access to cultural or recreational amenities, many Pennsylvanians are willing to tolerate longer commutes. That said, the average commute of the worst commuter cities on our list is just 10 minutes more than the national average.
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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 Pennsylvania cities whose population exceeded 10,000 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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