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New data reveal the best places to live in the US if you love public transit

Reuters Photo/Joshua Roberts
Great when they work.
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Despite the proliferation of digital schedules and transit apps, it can be tricky to identify the most transit-friendly places within American cities. Most measures of transit effectiveness only take into account the number of stops, not how well they can help you navigate your city. AllTransit, a new website from the non-profit Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), aims to change that.

CNT, with funding from TransitCenter, created AllTransit by collecting data from over 800 individual transit agencies. It’s almost certainly the most comprehensive public transit dataset ever created. Though the target of the website is urban planners and transit advocates, it also makes an incredible house-hunting guide. For my address in the recently redeveloped NOMA neighborhood of Washington, DC, AllTransit tells me:

  • There are over a million jobs within a half-hour commute.
  • More than 18% of workers commute on foot.
  • There are 6 bikeshares and 9 carshares within a half-hour commute.
  • Residents spend an average of 9.1% of their income on transportation.

This kind of data-driven analyses inevitably culminates in a ranking of the best transit systems. AllTransit takes a holistic view, incorporating into its “AllTransit Performance Score” not only frequency and distribution of rides, but also the number of jobs connected to transit. According to the site, if you want to live in one of the best transit cities in the country you should choose one of these 10:

1New York, NY9.6
2San Francisco, CA9.59
3Boston, MA9.44
4Washington, DC9.34
5Jersey City, NJ9.17
6Chicago, IL9.14
7Philadelphia, PA8.87
8Newark, NJ8.76
9Long Beach, CA8.68
10Seattle, WA8.59

Of course, no ranking is perfect. One factor not included in AllTransit: How well the existing systems work. Neither delays nor mechanical failures are factored into the rankings. If you truly love public transit you would do well to factor that extra variable into your decisions, otherwise you may end up trying to ride the well-ranked, but perpetually broken Washington, DC transit system.

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