Worst U.S. commutes

New trends highlight shift in migration patterns, purchase decisions

It seems almost every day there’s a new "best of" list in regard to America’s cities. We have the best city to live if you are a retiree, the cities where people are the happiest, the priciest cities, the cities with the most new development, etc.

The most unusual list is the one issued by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, which it calls the National Congestion Tables but might as well be labeled the cities with the most awful commutes.

TTI’s 2010 report doesn’t come out until the autumn, so the most recent numbers are from 2009, which may seem overly ripe, but the cities on the list don’t change positions very much from year to year.

Before I get to the list, I should explain that I came to call on the TTI experts when gasoline started to push the $4-a-gallon-at-the-pump range earlier this year, something we hadn’t seen since around 2005.

For a long time, I have been espousing the cause of reverse metro migration: moving back to the cities or older, closer-in suburbs so as to reduce the financial pain of commuting, which I was to learn from TTI is more severe than I imagined.