Jon Whitely

Seattle and Honolulu Move up the Ranks of the Best Cities for Public Transit in 2018

New York, San Francisco and Boston top the list of the 10 best cities for public transit according to the updated Transit Score® rankings by Redfin. Transit Score, a tool by Redfin company Walk Score®, rates locations based on how convenient they are to public transportation. Each of the top three cities has a Transit Score above 70, meaning it has an excellent transit rating, with transit being a convenient option for most trips.

While the rank order for the six best cities for public transit has stayed the same since 2012 when Transit Score first launched, there was a lot of movement at the bottom of the top-10 list.

In 7th place, Seattle has a Transit Score of 59.6, up 2.6 points since 2016, the biggest jump among the top 10. In the past two years, Seattle has expanded its Link light rail service, adding two new stations in 2016, making it easier and faster to get to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington. A 2017 survey by the Seattle Department of Transportation found that public transit use had increased by 48 percent in the past seven years.

“Seattle is not only the coolest city in the country – we are now one of the most transit-friendly cities,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “For our visitors, commuters and residents, public transit is safe, affordable, and a vital component in making sure our city is accessible to all. With the opening of new light rail stations and one of the highest bus riderships in the country, Seattle is making significant strides towards becoming a world-class transit city.”

Honolulu gained 1.6 points of Transit Score since 2016 and entered the top 10 list for the first time, replacing Miami. More than 69 million passengers in Honolulu ride TheBus annually and the city is planning a new rail system to further improve public transportation.

“Honolulu has been a public transportation city for many years now and the fact that our residents and visitors use TheBus an average of 214,000 trips every weekday is a testament to this fact,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “The new Transit Score ranking announced today by Redfin is proof that the nearly 2,000 workers who keep our bus system running strive for excellence each and every day, and our commitment to a transit system that covers all of O‘ahu will only improve once our rail project begins service along our busiest and most populated corridor.”

Below is a ranking of the top 10 U.S. cities (with populations of more than 300,000) for public transit.

Rank City Transit Score Change from 2016 Previous Rank (2016)
1 New York 85.3 +1.2 1
2 San Francisco 80.4 0 2
3 Boston 72.6 -1.8 3
4 Washington, D.C.  68.5 -2.2 4
5 Philadelphia 66.8 +0.1 5
6 Chicago 65.0 +0.3 6
7 Seattle 59.6 +2.6 10
8 Minneapolis 57.6 0 9
9 Baltimore 57.2 -0.6 8
10 Honolulu 57.2 +1.7 11

Top 5 Biggest Transit Score Increases

Raleigh, NC had the largest Transit Score increase, up 6.3 points from 2016 to 28.9 this year.

Rounding out the top five places with the largest Transit Score increases are Phoenix, AZ (+3.8), Aurora, CO (+3.5), Seattle, WA (+2.6)  and Atlanta, GA (+1.7).

Top 5 Biggest Transit Score Decreases

Washington D.C. had the largest decrease among all major cities in Transit Score, dropping 2.2 points to 68.5 in 2018. The decrease can be attributed to changes in Metrobus and Metrorail scheduling, where some bus routes were discontinued and the frequency of trains during rush hour was lowered.

“Once touted as the gold standard for public transit, D.C.’s Metro is now reckoning with decades of deferred maintenance,” said Redfin Washington D.C. agent John Marcario. “Tough decisions to reduce service and shut down lines for extended periods for repair are causing short-term frustration, but will hopefully make the system better in the long run. Despite the fall in Transit Score, access to transit remains a top priority for D.C. home buyers, who are still willing to pay a premium to live near a metro station.”

Bakersfield, CA (-2.2), Miami FL (-2.2), Boston, MA (-1.8) and Baltimore, MD (-0.6) rounded out the cities with the biggest Transit Score decreases from 2016 to 2018.

New Cities Added

With the addition of 600 new U.S. cities and more than 4,000 new neighborhoods, Transit Score ratings are now available for more than 900 cities and nearly 15,000 neighborhoods on walkscore.com. Among the newly added cities are big ones like Jacksonville, FL (22.4) and Charlotte, NC (27.4), along with smaller cities with Transit Score ratings like Hartford, CT (54.2) and Syracuse, NY (44.1).  

To see how your home, neighborhood or city stacks up, search walkscore.com or Redfin.com.

Methodology

The Transit Score algorithm calculates a score by summing the relative usefulness of public transit (bus, subway, light rail, ferry, etc.) routes near a given location. Usefulness is defined as the distance to the nearest stop on the route, the frequency of the route, and type of route (with twice as much weight given to heavy/light rail than to bus service). Transit Score is based on data published in General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format by transit agencies across the country. For a more details on the Transit Score methodology, click here.

 

These Are the 10 Most Walkable Cities of 2017

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New York, San Francisco and Boston remain the most walkable large cities in the U.S., according to the latest Walk Score® annual ranking. Miami, which saw its Walk Score rating increase by one point since last year, has surpassed Philadelphia to become the fourth-most walkable city.  Unlike last year, no new cities cracked the top 10.

Rank City Walk Score Change from 2016
1 New York 89.2 +0.3
2 San Francisco 86.0 +0.4
3 Boston 80.9 +0.2
4 Miami 79.2 +1.0
5 Philadelphia 79.0 +0.7
6 Chicago 77.8 +0.3
7 Washington D.C. 77.3 +0.4
8 Seattle 73.1 +0.2
9 Oakland 72.0 +0.5
10 Long Beach 69.9 +0.9

New York City has maintained the No. 1 spot on the list once again. Since Walk Score updated its algorithm in 2014, New York reigns as the king of walkability, and its Walk Score now sits at an all-time high of 89.2.

The nation’s most walkable cities are becoming even more walkable. Of the top 50 most walkable cities only one, Omaha, Nebraska, saw its Walk Score decline, and it only decreased 0.3 points from last year.

Walk Score measures the walkability of a location based on its distance from amenities, density of population, block length and pedestrian friendliness. The annual ranking identifies the most walkable U.S. cities with populations of more than 300,000.

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Changes in the Top Five

Miami’s steady increase in walkability can be attributed to builders and city officials embracing the idea of densely populated neighborhoods.

“Developers are seeing an overall trend in people who desire to live, work and play within the same neighborhood,” said Aaron Drucker, a Redfin real estate agent in Miami. “Developers have focused on popular, urban neighborhoods like Wynwood, Midtown, Brickell, South Beach and Coconut Grove, constructing high rises, multi-family homes and condominiums.This has led to population increases, creating density that didn’t exist in Miami years ago.”

Despite Philadelphia’s drop in rank, the city’s walkability continues to increase. The city of brotherly love saw its Walk Score increase from 78.3 last year to 79.0 in 2017.

“Some main retail arteries that run through hot residential areas are experiencing a huge renaissance,” said Philadelphia Redfin agent Jennifer Seal. “The likelihood that there’s a new grocery store, coffee shop or even spinning studio within blocks of many Philadelphia homes has greatly increased in recent years.”

Changes in the Top 50

Fresno, California experienced a healthy surge, moving up two places in the top 50 and increasing its Walk Score from 45.1 in 2016 to 46.3 this year. Also making moves in 2017 is El Paso, Texas with an impressive leap from 40.0 to 41.5. The Virginia neighborhood in El Paso was named one of Texas’ 10 most walkable neighborhoods.

Columbus, Ohio dropped three places from 38th to 41st most walkable city in the country this year; still the Ohio capital remains in the top 50 with a Walk Score® of 40.7. St. Louis (64.5), Dallas (46.2), Omaha (45.1), Aurora (42.6) and Riverside (41.3) were the other cities to drop rank in the top 50, albeit only one spot each.

Why Walkability Matters

Our goal at Redfin and Walk Score is to help people find the right home, not just any home, and what often makes a home “right” is location. Walkability is about convenience, quality of life and everything outside the four walls of a house. When you live near the people and places you enjoy most, you can spend less time and money on transit and more time doing what you love.

For the full ranking of America’s most walkable cities, click here. To see how your home fares in terms of walkability, get your score here. If you’re looking to buy, Redfin features Walk Score on listings of homes for sale. Renters can use Walk Score’s Apartment Search tfind a rental home in a walkable neighborhood.

Methodology

To calculate the rankings, Walk Score analyzed over 10 million locations and computed more than 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities. The Walk Score algorithm incorporates walking routes, the number of nearby amenities (e.g. restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores), respective distance to those amenities, pedestrian friendliness, population and neighborhood boundary data.