Commuting Can Become a Waiting Game in These Biotech Hubs


For those who live in large metropolitan and suburban areas, there are many advantages to city life, including proximity to cultural events and shopping districts, as well as institutions of higher learning. There are also some drawbacks to those urban areas as well, particularly traffic.

Morning and afternoon traffic reports are essential tools for people who have to commute to and from work, especially in large urban areas. Unfortunately for employees of biotech and pharma, the biotech hubs across the United States are not excluded from these traffic issues. A recent report from Business Insider ranked the 50 worst places in the United States for traffic commutes and the main biotech hubs were all included.

San Diego – Known for its temperate climate and laid back atmosphere, San Diego is one of the key hubs in the United States for the biotech and pharma industry. Numerous companies make their home there to take advantage of the relationship the area has with top research universities of the surrounding area. Traffic can back up, but in relation to other biotech hubs, the trips aren’t as time-consuming as they can be elsewhere. The average trip to and from work is 26.3 minutes, which is enough time to drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the Southern California sun. San Diego ranked number 43 on the list of the 50 worst commutes in America.

Click to create a jobseeker profile

Research Triangle Park – While the RTP area spreads across several municipalities in central North Carolina, the traffic can bottleneck along the main thoroughfare leading to the park, which is home to a number of pharma, medical and tech companies. There are also major universities in the area, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that contributes significant early-stage and clinical research, which have helped spur 100% growth in the life sciences since 2001. The average commute time in the Raleigh, N.C. area is 26.5 minutes, according to the rankings. Raleigh came in at number 39 in the rankings.

Houston – Known for its connection to important cancer research center MD Anderson, among others, the Houston area has become a lynchpin in pharmaceutical research and is one of the fastest-growing life science communities in the country. Business Insider notes that the Houston area covers 600 square miles, which means a commute is par for the course in that city. The average commute time is 29.9 minutes. Houston ranks 14 on the list.

Philadelphia – Although biotech companies across the greater Philadelphia area have seen some layoffs in recent months and years, the area is still an important industry hub. But, it comes with its own share of traffic issues. According to Business Insider, the average commute is 30.3 minutes, which ranks the City of Brotherly Love as number 14 on the list.

Los Angeles – The City of Angels has emerged as a third biotech hub for the state of California. But, as anyone who has ever watched a film or television show with that city as the central location, traffic can be a nightmare. According to the survey rankings, Los Angeles has the 12th worst commute in the U.S., with an average of 30.8 minutes. In its report, Business Insider noted that the times leaving work can actually be worse in Los Angeles because more people are on the roads due to other non-work-related commitments and activities.

Seattle – With major companies like Starbucks and Amazon headquartered in downtown Seattle, not to mention the numerous biotechs in the area, the commute out of the downtown area can become quite congested. It can get even worse when the Seattle Mariners or Seattle Seahawks are playing due to the proximity of those stadiums to the downtown area. The average commute in Seattle is 31 minutes, according to the report.

BostonBoston’s importance as a biotech hub is no secret. It’s home to some of the most cutting-edge biotech and pharma companies in the world, not to mention other industries. And, Business Insider notes that the number of jobs has continued to climb in the area over the past decade. The commute time in Beantown 31.4 minutes, putting Boston at number eight on the list.

Chicago – The Second City is one of the most congested cities in the world and its roads are no exception. The average commute time in Chicago is 31.8 minutes. But, anyone who commutes into the city from the western suburbs certainly knows the trip can take much longer. Chicago ranks number seven on the list.

San Francisco – Coming in at number three on the list, San Francisco is the birthplace of biotech. It’s home to cutting edge companies, as well as universities that contribute significantly to the development of new treatments. For this study, Business Insider isolated San Francisco from the rest of the Bay Area and noted the average commute time is 34.4 minutes. To make matters worse, the publication put in a reminder that the cost of living in San Francisco is 62.6% higher than the rest of the country.

New York – It’s probably no surprise that the Big Apple topped the list of worst cities for commutes in the United States. Despite its density, the city has seen an increase in the growing number of biotech incubator sites over the past several months. Those new companies may add to the traffic in the area, particularly in Manhattan, which sees 1.6 million people commute into the area each day from surrounding counties, Business Insider said. The average commute time in New York City is 37 minutes.

Back to news