on the road again?

Houston drivers have the 4th worst commute in America, study finds

Houston drivers — here's your validation for your road rage. Photo by Manuel Velasquez on Unsplash

For better or for worse, it's finally been confirmed – Houston traffic is among the worst in the nation, according to a new study by Forbes Home.

Houston ranked No. 4 in the Forbes study, which analyzed 25 of the largest U.S. cities to discover the average commute times for workers. Using 2021 U.S. Census data, the report determined the average time spent traveling to work in Houston is 30 minutes, which is only the ninth worst commute time out of all cities on the list.

"No amount of personal playlist songs, audiobooks, podcasts, commuter coffee, or glove compartment snacks can make a tough commute more pleasant," the report said.

While the COVID-19 pandemic brought commuting to a halt for most workers, about 74 percent of Americans are back to making those early morning and afternoon drives to-and-from their employers. Work-from-home rates have continuously dropped since 2020, which isn't helping the rise in commute times.

Houston has nearly 1.75 million workers over the age of 16 living within the area, and only 4.6 percent of households don't have access to a car. Unless workers live very close to their jobs, it's otherwise pretty difficult to walk or bike to work in such a gridlock-stricken city.

It surely doesn't help that the study cites Houston's (unfortunate) fame for being the No. 1 most stressful U.S. city for workers as having a hand in its overall ranking. Add commuting to that list of stressors, and it all equals an unhealthy effect on the working population.

"Research by the National Library of Medicine has found that the longer the commute time, the less satisfaction with work and life as hours spent commuting daily can contribute to a decline in mental and physical health," the report said.

Elsewhere in Texas, Dallas (No. 9) and Fort Worth (No. 10) both made it into the top 10 with their respective commute times of 29.70 and 26.80 minutes. San Antonio ranked No. 16 with an average commute time of 25.40 minutes. Austin, surprisingly, ranked No. 18 overall with an average of 27.90 minutes.

The top 10 U.S. cities with the hardest commutes are:

  • No. 1 – Nashville, Tennessee
  • No. 2 – Charlotte, North Carolina
  • No. 3 – Jacksonville, Florida
  • No. 4 – Houston, Texas
  • No. 5 – Washington, D.C.
  • No. 6 – New York City, New York
  • No. 7 – Boston, Massachusetts
  • No. 8 – Los Angeles, California
  • No. 9 – Dallas, Texas
  • No. 10 – Fort Worth, Texas
The full report can be found on forbes.com.


This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A Rice University professor studied the Earth's carbon cycle in the Rio Madre de Dios to shed light on current climate conditions. Photo courtesy of Mark Torres/Rice University

Carbon cycles through Earth, its inhabitants, and its atmosphere on a regular basis, but not much research has been done on that process and qualifying it — until now.

In a recent study of a river system extending from the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon floodplains, Rice University’s Mark Torres and collaborators from five institutions proved that that high rates of carbon breakdown persist from mountaintop to floodplain.

“The purpose of this research was to quantify the rate at which Earth naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and find out whether this process varies across different geographic locations,” Torres says in a news release.

Torres published his findings in a study published in PNAS, explaining how they used rhenium — a silvery-gray, heavy transition metal — as a proxy for carbon. The research into the Earth’s natural, pre-anthropogenic carbon cycle stands to benefit humanity by providing valuable insight to current climate challenges.

“This research used a newly-developed technique pioneered by Robert Hilton and Mathieu Dellinger that relies on a trace element — rhenium — that’s incorporated in fossil organic matter,” Torres says. “As plankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, that dead carbon becomes chemically reactive in a way that adds rhenium to it.”

The research was done in the Rio Madre de Dios basin and supported by funding from a European Research Council Starting Grant, the European Union COFUND/Durham Junior Research Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation.

“I’m very excited about this tool,” Torres said. “Rice students have deployed this same method in our lab here, so now we can make this kind of measurement and apply it at other sites. In fact, as part of current research funded by the National Science Foundation, we are applying this technique in Southern California to learn how tectonics and climate influence the breakdown of fossil carbon.”

Torres also received a three-year grant from the Department of Energy to study soil for carbon storage earlier this year.

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