Surprise, surprise. New York City has the nation's best public transit.

San Francisco, at number 2, is a bit surprising, however.

Boston is number 3.

Washington, DC.

Philadelphia.

Chicago.

Seattle.

Baltimore.

Los Angeles.

Portland.

2014-01-29

Co.Exist

The Cities With The Best Public Transportation In The U.S.

That New York City takes the top spot is no surprise, but San Francisco is No. 2. Really?

In most of the U.S., public transportation is pretty dismal. That's the overall message from Walk Score's new rankings of the best U.S. cities for public transit.

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.

Now look at the top ranked cities overall.

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.

At least the top five cities all have somewhat respectable transportation systems, even if they aren't always efficient (the Transit Scores only take into account frequency, type of route, and distance--but not reliability). The bottom five on the top 10 list of best cities for transportation all get a score of 65 out of 100 or lower; in other words, even the Transit Score algorithm doesn't rank them too highly. And somehow, Los Angeles, land of cars, slides in at the No. 9 spot. The Bike Scores for the top cities aren't too high either, but they at least never dip below 62 out of 100 in the top 10.

Unfortunately, Walk Score only ranks public transportation in the U.S., so there's no way to compare the top 10 scores to other countries. Rankings for more of the lower-ranked cities in the U.S. are available here.

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11 Comments

  • Ronald Paul Viernes

    Really, a picture of the Seattle Center Monorail for Seattle? Saying that's the face of our public transit system is embarrassing. You can do better, Fastco. Tsk tsk.

  • That Minneapolis isn't on the list of bike friendly cities is a sign this may be flawed. They are constantly ranked high in this regard and were the basis for New York's bike share program. A program that's been so successful that the company no longer requires deposits for the bikes to be borrowed.

  • Eric Hsia

    If this study had been done a dozen years ago, Chicago would've ranked an easy #2. That city used to have such a seamless transition between L and bus. Now, it's a mess.

    Seattle at #7 is a joke. The bus system is unreliable at best and looking at massive route cuts in 2014. Maybe once the lightrail is up and running, we can start to talk.

  • Natalie Zayas-Bazan

    i just moved from SF to san diego. i also don't understand how SF is so high. i for one find san diego public transportation MUCH BETTER than san Francisco.

  • "And somehow, Los Angeles, land of cars, slides in at the No. 9 spot."

    LA has the highest bus ridership of any US city. They're also expanding their already halfway decent rail transit system more aggressively than any other US city, NYC included. For anyone who actually knows what LA has in terms of transit, this is not at all surprising.