New York is the best U.S. city for public transit, according to Redfin, the real estate brokerage firm. On Dec. 2, Redfin published the 2016 Transit Score® ranking by Walk Score®, a Redfin company, and announced the expansion of Transit Score ratings to a total of 350 U.S. cities and more than 10,000 neighborhoods.
New York’s Transit Score increased 2.9 points to 84.1 from 81.2 in the last published ranking in 2014. According to Walk Score, a place with a Transit Score in the 70 to 89 range has excellent transit. In September, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) celebrated the first addition to its subway system in 26 years, with the extension of the 7 line to the new 34th St.-Hudson Yards Station, connecting riders to the Javits Center, the High Line, the Hudson River Park and surrounding commercial and residential developments.
Below is a ranking of the top 10 U.S. cities (with populations of more than 300,000) for public transit.
“Urban dwellers today want convenience,” said Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson. “Particularly in congested urban areas, a car may be the slowest way to get around the city. Homes near bus and subway lines tend to have higher values that hold up even during housing downturns. The fact that many cities are also investing in alternative forms of transit, like bike share, indicates how highly prized access to transit is by their residents.”
Among the 130 newly added cities are big ones like Phoenix (32.2) and Detroit (37.9), as well as smaller cities with big Transit Scores like Union City, N.J. (80.2) and State College, PA (63.7).
“After schools, access to public transportation is what New Jersey homebuyers ask about most frequently,” said Nick Boniakowski, Redfin market manager. “We spend a lot of time with our clients researching nearby bus and rail routes and stops, so being able to easily see that Union City, for example, has a higher Transit Score than pricier Jersey City (70) gives buyers another easy way to compare and evaluate homes, neighborhoods and cities.”
None of the cities on the list score in the 90 to 100 range, which Walk Score defines as a “riders’ paradise.” However, individual neighborhoods in many cities are riders’ paradises, like Boston’s Bay Village (100), Philadelphia’s Logan Square (100), The Loop (99.1) in Chicago and Belltown (98.1) in Seattle. Some cities that didn’t make the top 10 list are home to riders’ paradises, including downtown Pittsburgh (97.1), Old Town Chinatown (92.2) in Portland, Ore. (50.8) and downtown Houston (92.8).
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.