Which are The Best Public Transit-Friendly Cities in America?

Living in a city that has great public transit access can be a big bonus to getting around the city with minimal commuting time, and hopefully at a lower cost than the use of a car. If you are unsure which cities offer the best service, then be sure to check out which ones made the cut.

Having a car to get around is great, but it is an added expense that many would prefer to do without. Even though lonely planet has a top ten list that does not include any American cities, there are still many within the United States that have a great public transit system, so much so, that you may find that you can do without a car.

But the key is knowing which cities are the most public transit-friendly so that you can get around easily at all times of the day. So, without further ado, here are the top cities in America that have the best mass transit around.

1. New York

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This one is a bit of a paradox; there are many that will complain about the New York City (NYC) mass transit system; business insider discusses the fact that NYC’s transit is in desperate need of repairs and is overcrowded. That said, there are many sites and residents who will still state that it is the best public transit system around.

Redfin gives New York City a ranking of 85.3 on the transit score and an improved rating of 1.2 from 2016. This is likely due to the fact that the city has 18 transit routes, all within close range of one another, and they are accessible to the 1.3 million jobs that are within this target area, businessinsider.com.


2. San Francisco

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Coming in at a close second, according to Redfin as well as Smart Asset, San Francisco includes the iconic historical cable cars that people instantly recognize. Nowadays, the city’s transit responsibility is delegated to the buses and commuter trains that run throughout the city.

According to Smart Asset, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is responsible for commuting those to nearby surrounding cities, like Oakland and Berkeley, while the San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) is in charge of running over 220 million passengers every year with the buses and light rail trains.

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3. Boston

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Bostonites know their form of public transportation as the “T”, otherwise known to outsiders as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Smart Asset rates them as number three due to the fact that this mass transit system carries approximately 390 million passengers each year.

34% of the Boston locals use public transit, which puts them fifth overall for transit users in the United States. The “T” uses five separate lines of transit and has even more bus routes for Greater Boston. Business Insider shows that their public transportation services make over 1,500 stops every day.


3. Washington D.C.

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While some may argue that Washington’s public transit should rank higher on the list, for example, the simple fact that a monthly pass comes in at over $230 argues that it may be worth it to hold onto your car for a bit.

This mass transit system is a network of buses and underground subways, the latter known as the Metro or Metrorail. The underground network makes over 200 million trips each year, while the above transit handles 130 million trips yearly, thus making the system the second largest of riders in the States.


5. Chicago

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One of the older public transportation services around and yet still the third-largest rail system in the U.S., according to Smart Asset, this transit system, known as the South Side Rapid Transit, takes on almost 800, 000 riders every weekday.

Recall that the monthly transit pass in Washington was over $230, in Chicago, you will spend approximately $100 each month to partake in this mass transit system along with more than 2.7 million residents that reside within the transit borders.

6. Philadelphia

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Redfin shows Philadelphia with a transit score of 66.8 overall. According to Smart Asset, workers that reside in the city and that use the public transportation services equals approximately 171,000 people; and is the fourth largest number in the United States.

The public transit network includes buses, commuter rails, trolley buses, street-level trolleys, and an underground system of subways. The majority of riders rely on the aboveground mass transit while just over half of the riders use the underground network.

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7. Seattle

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Showing the biggest leap in transit score since 2016, as shown on Redfin, that of 2.6 %, it is no surprise thanks to their many recent transit changes and improvements. These improvements include a completed underground light rail line and a new streetcar line, the second of two.

The light rail line connects downtown Seattle to the University of Washington, allowing for students to better get around the city. The number of riders has undergone a big increase as a result of these changes and Redfin rates this city as number seven, up from ten the previous year.

Other Cities to Consider

The lower the city falls on the list, the more controversial and subjective the list becomes. That doesn’t mean that these cities don’t offer great public transit service, just that your rating might depend on what your transit experience is.

Here are some general stats on other public transit-friendly cities in the United States:

  • Minneapolis – This city has 127 buses, 1 bus rapid transit, 2 light rails and 1 commuter rail
  • Baltimore – This city has local bus service, light rail link, metro subway link, commuter bus, and MARC train
  • Honolulu – This city has 110 routes, 4,200 stops, and almost 250,000-weekday riders
  • Oakland – This city now welcomes 21% of residents using its public transit system
  • Pittsburgh – This city’s network includes buses, underground subway, and its light rail services

If you are in the market for moving to one of the previously mentioned public transit-friendly cities but aren’t sure where you want to live, try checking out some great apartment listings to help you narrow down your search.

Author’s Bio

Danielle thrives on researching and writing on all aspects of life. Further to writing for Zumper blog and personal finance, she is an advocate of self-improvement and living a life that is both financially responsible and knowledgeable. When she is not on her computer, she can be found spending time with her husband and two sons.



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