Management & Operations

2019 list of best U.S. cities for public transportation unveiled

Posted on March 17, 2019

SFMTA
SFMTA
New York; Union City, New Jersy; and San Francisco top the 2019 list of best cities for public transit, according to a new Transit Score® ranking from Redfin, the tech-powered real estate brokerage. Transit Score, a tool by Redfin company Walk Score®, rates locations based on how convenient they are to public transportation.

Redfin's annual Transit Score report has typically examined large cities with a population of 300,000 or more. This year, Redfin is presenting the raw ranking, unfiltered for population, to show that transit is not reserved only for the largest places.

"Housing affordability has become a nationwide concern, leading people to move away from big, expensive cities to smaller, affordable commuter towns and inland areas," said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. "Cities that offer the best of both worlds — accessible public transit and relatively affordable homes for sale —  are destined for strong growth in the coming years."

The three top spots each had a Transit Score of 80 or better, with New York and its New Jersey suburb of Union City surging above other cities, indicating the local public transit is both conveniently located and runs frequently.

Rank

City

Transit Score

Change (in Transit
Score points) from
2018

1

New York, NY

84

-1

2

Union City, NJ

81

0

3

San Francisco, CA

80

0

4

Hoboken, NJ

75

0

5

Cambridge, MA

74

2

6

West New York, NJ

73

0

7

Boston, MA

72

-1

8

Washington, D.C.

71

3

9

Jersey City, NJ

71

0

10

Brookline, MA

69

1

11

Philadelphia, PA

67

0

12

Chicago, IL

65

0

13

Newark, NJ

65

0

14

Silver Spring, MD

64

0

15

Somerville, MA

64

1

16

Bayonne, NJ

62

0

17

Arlington, VA

62

3

18

Santa Monica, CA

62

-1

19

Oak Park, IL

62

0

20.

Takoma Park, MD

61

0

21.

West Hollywood, CA

61

0

22.

Seattle, WA

60

0

23.

Beverly Hills, CA

60

0

24.

Hyattsville, MD

59

4

25.

Florence-Graham, CA

59

-1

New Jersey suburbs popular with commuters also performed well, including top-ranked Union City, as well as Hoboken, West New York, and Jersey City all in the top ten.

In Massachusetts, Cambridge outranked Boston with scores of 74 and 72, respectively. Boston suburbs Brookline and Somerville both earned top scores too, highlighting the ease of access to public transportation in the Boston metro area.

SFMTA
SFMTA
The Washington, D.C., area demonstrated significant change since last year's ranking. The nation's capital ranked 8th place overall at 71, but rose three points, more than any other city in the top 25 — except for its suburb of Arlington. Arlington also gained three points to hit 62, an increase that could be related to Amazon HQ2's arrival in Crystal City, located in Arlington. Access to mass transit was listed as a core preference in criteria when Amazon opened up their nationwide search, and there are already plans in place for key transportation infrastructure improvements near the new office campus.

More than half of the top 25 small and large cities remain unchanged from last year, while a few only dipped or increased by one. Those small changes are significant — Redfin found in 2017 that one Transit Score point can increase the price of an average home by more than $2,000.

The results also show that cities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic tend to rank higher for public transit, with more than half of the top entries found in these regions. The West Coast was close behind with cities from California and Washington, while Chicago and nearby Oak Park were the sole cities ranked highly in the Midwest.

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