New Ranking of Best U.S. Cities for Public Transit

Today we’re announcing a new ranking of the best cities in the United States for public transit.

We’ve calculated the Transit Score for 316 cities and almost 7,000 neighborhoods to help home shoppers and apartment hunters find places to live with better commutes and more transportation choices.

Where Can You Live Car-Free?

Here are the best U.S. cities for public transportation.

Rank City Transit Score
1 New York 81
2 San Francisco 80
3 Boston 75
4 Washington D.C. 70
5 Philadelphia 67

New Public Transit Ranking by Region

How does your city compare to other cities in your region?  See the full list of cities.

Regional Transit Score Ranking

The older Northeast cities with established subway systems have the highest scores.  West Coast cities that have made more recent investments in light rail also score well.  Although cities in the south have a low average Transit Score of 38, there are many neighborhoods with high scores such as Downtown Houston or the Brickell Neighborhood in Miami.

Living Near Public Transit

There’s growing evidence that buying a house or renting an apartment near public transit is a smart idea.

  • First, it’s likely a better investment.  The National Association of Realtors found that home values performed 42% better when they were located near public transit1.  In Boston, a recent study showed that home prices near public transit outperformed the region by 129%2.
  • Living near public transit saves you money. The average American spends $9,859 per year on their car3. Did you know this is the equivalent of a $135,000 mortgage?!  Transportation is the second largest expense for American households4.
  • And living near good public transit might just make you happier5 — after all, nobody likes being stuck in traffic.

Thinking about buying a new home instead of renting? Real Estate doesn’t come cheap in transit-friendly cities like San Francisco or Washington DC but if you can swing it you’ll certainly reap the rewards.

Walk Score helps you find apartments near public transit with our unique search by commute time features.  Download our iPhone app or Android app to find a place to live with a better commute.

mobile-near-transit

Transit Score Ranking Methodology

Our ranking is based on the average resident’s access to public transit in a city.  To compute our ranking, we calculated the Transit Score of over 1.9  million locations in 316 cities.  We use a population-weighted methodology to compute the average Transit Score for a city.  Our top 10 cities list includes cities with populations over 500,000 people.  Read more about Walk Score methodology.

10 Comments

  1. Kenny

    I don’t understand: on the list of top Western cities, I see Oakland has a transit score of 54, on the list of top Southern cities, I see Miami has a transit score of 58, and on the list of top Midwestern cities, I see Minneapolis has a transit score of 58 – but on the list of top ten overall I don’t see any of those cities, even though Los Angeles and Portland make it with only a score of 50. Conversely, I see Baltimore on the top ten list with a score of 57, but it appears to be beat out on the top Southern cities by Atlanta with only a score of 43. Are these lists supposed to be measuring different things? The cities that appear on both sets of lists do have the same score on each.

  2. Aleisha

    While we calculated Transit Score for over 300 cities, the top 10 ranking only includes cities with population over 500,000.

  3. Dan

    Calling Washington DC a southern city, especially in this context, is ridiculous. It’s part of the northeast megalopolis. It’s a northeastern city.

    I realize it’s south of the Mason Dixon line, but the Mason Dixon line hasn’t been a meaningful boundary is about 150 years. Unless you’re concerned with whether or not you can own a slave in 1850, it has no bearing on contemporary regional splits.

  4. Nathaniel Martin

    Thanks, Dan, for beating me to the punch regarding the listing of Washington, DC, as a southern city. It is indeed part of the northeastern urban corridor, culturally, politically, and otherwise. Anyone who thinks Washington (or Baltimore) is part of the south has never been to the south!

  5. Tim Sosa

    Dan, Nathaniel: Those categories are the ones used by the Census Bureau, and aren’t meant to reflect cultural alignments. “South” here is an arbitrary spatial designation.

  6. Sangeetha

    Okay this is nice and all, but what if you take these and compare them on the international scale? Sure Boston may seem among the best but I assure you it falls plenty short compared to rail/public transport systems in Europe and many other countries.

  7. Brett

    Tim Sosa:

    Washington, DC is below the Mason Dixon Line; and, therefore, is in the south.

  8. Alika

    Brett:

    As another commenter noted above, the Mason-Dixon Line is not as relevant of a “boundary” as it used to be. Especially in an article such as this, the key consideration here is transportation connectedness. DC is part of the long-established Northeast Corridor, which makes it more closely connected with its neighbors to the north rather than the south.

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