University of Minnesota

Access Across America: Auto 2013
Key findings

Top 10 accessible metro areas (2010)

  1. Los Angeles
  2. San Francisco
  3. New York
  4. Chicago
  5. Minneapolis
  6. San Jose
  7. Washington, D.C.
  8. Dallas
  9. Boston
  10. Houston

Accessibility describes the ease of reaching destinations and differs from traditional measures of mobility or congestion, which measure how fast or slowly you can move on the network with no direct reference to where you can get. 

Accessibility is the product of both travel time on the network and the arrangement of activities with respect to that network. 

This study estimates the accessibility to jobs by automobile in the 51 largest metropolitan areas in the United States for 2010 and compares results with 2000 and 1990.

  1. In 2010, the average American living in the top-51 metro areas could reach slightly fewer jobs by automobile than in 1990 but more jobs than in 2000.
  2. Automobile speeds were faster in 2010 than in 2000 (and about where they were in 1990).
  3. Overall job losses in these 51 areas have limited accessibility gains associated with faster networks.
  4. The average American city is slightly more circuitous in 2010 than in 1990 because roads in newer areas (suburban growth) are not as well connected as those in older areas of the metropolitan region.
  5. The overall most accessible metropolitan areas in 2010 were (in order): Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Jose, Washington, Boston, Dallas, and Houston.
  6. There have been significant changes among accessibility leaders since 1990, when New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Washington, and Dallas made up the top 10.
  7. People living in many smaller metropolitan areas can reach as many jobs by car as people living in much larger areas within both the 10- and 20- minute time frames. For instance, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, and Jacksonville are all among the top 10 for number of jobs that can be reached within 10 minutes. Jacksonville, Milwaukee, and Las Vegas are among the top 10 for number of jobs that can be reached within 20 minutes.

More Information

The Accessibility Observatory is a program of the Center for Transportation Studies.