Which U.S. Cities Have the Best Transit?

Walk Score has published its analysis of the quality of public transit in 50 of the biggest cities in the United States. The rankings may surprise you.

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January 31, 2014, 7:00 AM PST

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


nyc. subway.

rafaj / Flickr

"Upon first glance, the rankings don't seem too surprising. New York City comes in first, as it always should. Boston is the second top-ranked Northeastern city. Washington D.C. is the top Southern city, and San Francisco is the top Western city," observes Ariel Schwartz. But she finds fault with the country's overall rankings. 

"Somehow, San Francisco comes in second place after New York City. If that's actually the case, the U.S. transportation system is in big trouble. Because while San Francisco is served by many different transit types (subway, light rail, buses), it still can take hours to cross the seven mile by seven mile city using public transportation."

How was San Francisco able to claim a top spot? Walk Score explains its methodology thus: "To calculate a Transit Score, we assign a "usefulness" value to nearby transit routes based on the frequency, type of route (rail, bus, etc.), and distance to the nearest stop on the route. The "usefulness" of all nearby routes is summed and normalized to a score between 0 - 100."

It appears as though San Francisco's "dense and uniform distribution of public transit" vaulted the city's score. To learn more about the methodology, see this explanation.  

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