Forbes: Tampa Worst City for Commuters

St. Petersburg traffic jam
A St. Petersburg traffic jam.
TAMPA (2010-2-18) -

If you have to commute to work, you could pick no worse place to live than Tampa Bay. That’s the conclusion of a recent survey by Forbes Magazine, which ranked Tampa dead last its recent story, “Best and Worst Cities for Commuters.”

But according to the Census, travel times for commuters in Tampa aren’t much higher than the national average. Instead, the survey punished the region for its lack of mass transit.

Anyone who’s driven I-275 through downtown Tampa knows the Bay has a problem with traffic. But some local officials were shocked to see Tampa ranked lower than Los Angeles, New York – and even Orlando.

The average Bay commuter spends about 52 minutes a day traveling back and forth to work. That’s only one minute longer than the national average, and it’s a lot less than other big cities.

But Tampa scored badly on Forbes’ “green commuter” measure, which takes into account how many commuters walk, bike and use public transit.

Tampa is the largest metro area in America without some sort of rail mass transit. Commissioners in Hillsborough County are expected to place a one cent sales tax before voters, asking them to fund a new light rail system.

Two other Florida metro regions made the top ten for worst commuting cities: Orlando, at number four, and Miami, number six.

Miami also made another Forbes worst-of list recently – the sixth most miserable city in America, based on its traffic, crime rate, and high home foreclosure rate.

We'll hear local experts and our listeners weigh in on Tampa traffic on Florida Matters, Tuesday, Mar. 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Mar. 14 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7.

We'd love to hear your commuting stories. Do you carpool, bike or drive alone. Tell us about the worst roads, the most congested intersections, or the places where it seems like there’s ALWAYS an accident.

Call us at 813-974-8650 and leave a message, or send an e-mail to letters@wusf.org. The best responses will be read on the air.

Here are the Forbes commuter rankings for Florida cities:

1. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.
Travel Delay Rank: 45
Green Commuter Rank: 53
Travel Time Rank: 41

4. Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.
Travel Delay Rank: 42
Green Commuter Rank: 50
Travel Time Rank: 37

6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.
Travel Delay Rank: 54
Green Commuter Rank: 31
Travel Time Rank: 47

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