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Making the Most Out of Your Long Commute to New York City

Here's what you need to know...
  • Around 3.1 million New Yorkers commute to work and live outside of the city in other boroughs
  • New York City’s weekday population grows by 608,000 (eight percent) when commuters come into the city for work
  • New Yorker commuters have the longest commute times compared to all other commuters in the country
  • You can expect to spend an average length of 48 minutes commuting to work in New York
  • New Yorkers are moving to both Manhattan and Brooklyn because they are commuter destinations

It’d be nice to be able to live without working a day in your life, but if you want to afford rent and the high cost of living in New York City, you’re going to have to dedicate time to building a career.

Unfortunately, no matter how much you love what you do, virtually no one likes to spend hours commuting to and from the office on a daily basis.

In an ideal world, the office would be right outside your front door, but that’s not the norm in New York City. Since New York City’s one of the largest and most populous metropolitan regions in the world, you can expect congestion and long commute times.

Here’s a guide to surviving long commutes in New York City.

If you’re concerned about being covered while commuting to and from work, enter your ZIP code above and compare at least three to four auto insurance policies today!

Commuting to Work


In the United States, approximately 128.3 million commuters drive their personal vehicles to and from the suburbs, the central city, or the inner city.

Out of all of these commuters, a whopping 29 percent of drivers only have to drive one to five miles one way to get to their workplace. An additional 29 percent drive six to 15 miles, and only eight percent have an extreme commute of 35 miles or more.

Out of all American commuters, around 75 percent drive their personal vehicles alone. This number changes when you focus on a huge city surrounded by smaller boroughs like New York City.

Since Manhattan is the employment hub in the city, around 30 percent of commuters work and live in Manhattan. Other commuters come in from Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, and Long Island.

Around 3.7 million professionals are employed in New York City and commute on weekdays and even weekends — a much larger number than in all other metropolitan areas in the nation.

Amazingly enough, only around five percent of commuters in the Big Apple carpool. Carpooling could be a huge reason why the average commute in NY is 48 minutes, which is 13 minutes longer than the national average.

Common Ways to Commute in New York City

New York City has one of the most extensive lists of options for public transportation. With so many different commuting methods to choose from, decisions which option is best can be very intimidating and overwhelming for the first-time commuter.

Here are some of the most common ways New Yorkers commute today:

– Driving Your Own Car


If you don’t have too long of a commute, driving your own car might be the most reasonable option.

Out of the 23.6 million residents spread across 35 counties, about 61 percent of the resident commuters who live in the boroughs that they live in will drive their own cars to work in New York.

Another reason that commuters find it easiest to drive to work instead of taking public transportation is when they have children who have to be dropped off at daycare or school.

If spouses share one car and work close enough to one another, one might drop the other off and pick them up to cut down on commuting costs. Spouses sharing a car and cutting down on commuting are why cars are strongly dominant in the city’s inner and outer counties.

– Carpooling with Coworkers

Carpooling in New York simply isn’t very popular. It would seem like a reasonable way to reduce your gas expenses and to split up driving in New York traffic, but only around five percent of professionals in the City will commute with their co-workers.

If you choose this option, make sure you have an organized system in place and that everyone is held accountable for following the carpool system rules.

– Public Transportation in New York City

No other population relies on public transportation quite like New Yorkers do. With such a huge population, it’s good to know that more environmentally friendly commuting habits are being adopted.

In fact, a whopping 41 percent of commuters take the subway; another three percent of commuters travel by trains and ferries.

Reliance is so high on public transportation, because 54 percent of households in New York are car-less. Listed below are the choices New Yorkers have when it comes to public transportation:

  • Subways
  • Trains
  • Taxis
  • Ferries
  • Buses

Choosing which mode of transportation is best for your commute can be overwhelming. The best option depends on where you’re traveling from, where you’re traveling to, and if you’re commuting at a peak time.

If you need help routing your trip through the MTA, you can access a fully comprehensive transportation guide or contact the MTA directly.

– Ridesharing


Ridesharing has changed the way that people get from home to anywhere imaginable. These services have become the most valuable in areas like New York City.

Out of the all of the ride-sharing services that compete for business in the City, Uber and Lyft remain the most popular and affordable options. Simply log into your app, request a ride, pay for the ride, and someone will be at your doorstep in minutes.

You can combine two methods of commuting by choosing to carpool in a ridesharing service. UberPool allows you to pay a flat $5 fee for your ride. The driver will pick up other drivers along the route to your work, which is an excellent way to save money and it’s also tax deductible.

To keep up with the demand, taxis are now offering a similar carpooling option.

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How to Make the Most Out of Your Commute in New York City

No one wants to be stuck in a car sitting stagnant for 10, 15, or 20 minutes at a time while traffic does anything but let up. You have to consider what makes the most sense based on your commuting distance and area before you opt to drive your own car to work.

If you do drive, it’s all about what you do to stay calm. Here are some valuable tips:

– If You Live Close to Work


If you’re a Manhattan or another resident commuter, you might not even need to get into a motorized vehicle. Being close to work offers you some great advantages that others can’t enjoy.

Since not many people can afford rent in Manhattan, only about 11.2 percent of New York commuters walk or bike to work.

You can walk to work or bike to work without having to pay for gas, vehicle maintenance, ride-sharing fares, or bus tokens. If you don’t have room for your own bike, you can even rent a bike from a rental company like Hubway for a nominal charge.

Riding a bike will help you stay active and healthy and get your energy up before you work a long shift. Adopting this habit is also a wonderful way to prevent cardiovascular disease.

– If You’re Driving

When you’re driving, it takes a bit more effort to stay entertained. Just sitting there with your foot always on the brake pedal can get frustrating if you don’t have something to keep your mind off of it.

If you’re a music person, get a playlist together that will get you pumped for work. If you’re not too into music and you’re a loyal podcast follower, queue your podcast or an audiobook and save it for your long ride.

– If You’re Riding


Your options aren’t quite as limited if you’re riding in someone else’s car or you’re riding in a bus, railway, subway, or ferry. As a rider, your hands and eyes are free.

You could bring your headphones and listen to music or a podcast, but you also have the option to catch up on your reading. Bring a book or magazine.

Even better, if you’re catching up on work, bring it along with you, and you may get out of the office earlier.

Tips No Matter How You’re Commuting

You shouldn’t just stay to yourself every time you commute. One way to immerse yourself in the experience is to socialize. Meet someone new; you could be surprised at what you learn.

Here are a few more valuable tips that apply to any commute:

Carrying the Proper Insurance


If you own a vehicle, you must carry the right insurance at all times. All New Yorkers who own cars are required by law to have at least mandatory insurance. If you don’t, you could find yourself left on a commute without a car after it’s towed.

Here are the NY minimum requirements:

Most agents recommend that commuters in NY carry higher limits of liability, because the risk of having an accident is high.

You should also consider adding optional coverages to your policy for more protection, such as:

  • Comprehensive
  • Collision
  • Uninsured Motorist
  • Rental Car
  • Medical Payments

You can see the positive in any situation if you look for it. Some first-time commuters are shocked to find that they enjoy their commutes and love the “me” time they get. Use the time right, and you’ll get a lot done before you even arrive to work.

If you’re commuting in your own car, use an online comparison tool for quotes today to see how much a more comprehensive plan would cost you.

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