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Top 10 Cities in America for Public Transit

Jordan Scheltgen
Written by Jordan Scheltgen

Some of the biggest cities in the U.S. are also some of the best when it comes to public transit. It’s no secret that New York tops the list of the best city in America when it comes to public transit. The University of Minnesota did a study to analyze the top 46 populated cities within the U.S. and the relative effectiveness of their public transportation system. They ranked the cities based on the number of jobs which were accessible by public transit in these cities.

Now, obviously this doesn’t give a clear-cut answer on which city has the best public transportation all-around, as the old subway cars in New York are nothing to write home about. That being said, it’s a ranking to go by, and for those running a little late every morning, a very important ranking to go by.

It’s really a study on what cities you can save the most time in a day on your commute via public transit. For instance, the report shows that 6,500 jobs in New York are within a 10-minute commute of people’s homes. Below are screenshots of the individual cities with breakdowns of each location on their ranking. For the full report head here.

10. San Jose, CA

Via Mapbox

Via University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Research

San Jose pulled in with an overall rank of 10 nationwide. Here’s how they ranked for different commute times:

  • 10-Minute Commute Time = #15
  • 20-Minute Commute Time = #14
  • 30-Minute Commute Time = #13
  • 40-Minute Commute Time = #14
  • 50-Minute Commute Time = #9
  • 60-Minute Commute Time = #8

9. Denver, CO

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Research

Denver is continually ranked as one of the best places in the U.S. for public transit effectiveness. The light rail is pretty convenient for getting around.

  • 10-Minute Commute Time = #10
  • 20-Minute Commute Time = #9
  • 30-Minute Commute Time = #9
  • 40-Minute Commute Time = #9
  • 50-Minute Commute Time = #10
  • 60-Minute Commute Time = #10

8. Seattle, WA

University

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Research

If you live in Seattle or Bellevue, your transit options are pretty good. As north as Lynwood and as south as Burien has a lot of jobs within 30 minutes of travel from people’s homes. If you make it east of Redmond, you’ll be in for a bit more of a commute.

  • 10-Minute Commute Time = #6
  • 20-Minute Commute Time = #8
  • 30-Minute Commute Time = #8
  • 40-Minute Commute Time = #8
  • 50-Minute Commute Time = #8
  • 60-Minute Commute Time = #9

7. Philadelphia, PA

University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Research

Philly’s public transit comes in at 7 nationwide. Residents rely heavily on the SEPTA transit system which includes buses and a regional rail. SEPTA has the 6th largest U.S. rapid transit system by ridership and the 5th largest overall transit system.

  • 10-Minute Commute Time = #8
  • 20-Minute Commute Time = #7
  • 30-Minute Commute Time = #7
  • 40-Minute Commute Time = #7
  • 50-Minute Commute Time = #7
  • 60-Minute Commute Time = #7

6. Boston, MA

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Research

Whether it’s the red, blue, orange, silver or green line, it’s quite easy to get around Boston. One of the major wins for this transport system is having a line which goes from the city center (silver line) to Logan International Airport.

  • 10-Minute Commute Time = #3
  • 20-Minute Commute Time= #3
  • 30-Minute Commute Time = #3
  • 40-Minute Commute Time = #6
  • 50-Minute Commute Time = #6
  • 60-Minute Commute Time = #6

5. Chicago, IL

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Research

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Research

Chicago’s subway makes it one of the top cities in the U.S. for accessibility to jobs via public transit. It’s about a 20-minute ride from Wrigleyville to Downtown for instance. With Chicago being the 3rd biggest city in the country, it’s imperative that it has an efficient system in place for commuters.

  • 10-Minute Commute Time = #4
  • 20-Minute Commute Time = #4
  • 30-Minute Commute Time = #4
  • 40-Minute Commute Time = #5
  • 50-Minute Commute Time = #5
  • 60-Minute Commute Time = #5

4. Washington, D.C.

dc jobs

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Research

The nation’s capital comes in at 4th overall for public transportation. The high concentration of both living spaces and jobs in both Washington and nearby Arlington allows for short transit times.

  • 10-Minute Commute Time = #5
  • 20-Minute Commute Time = #5
  • 30-Minute Commute Time = #5
  • 40-Minute Commute Time = #3
  • 50-Minute Commute Time = #4
  • 60-Minute Commute Time = #4

3. Los Angeles, CA

la jobs

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Research

LA is probably the most surprising city to make the list. The first thing that comes to mind when you think of commuting in LA is probably traffic. However, if you live 30+ minutes outside of the city, you actually rank quite well against the national average with regards to accessibility to employment.

  • 10-Minute Commute Time = #7
  • 20-Minute Commute Time = #6
  • 30-Minute Commute Time = #6
  • 40-Minute Commute Time = #4
  • 50-Minute Commute Time = #3
  • 60-Minute Commute Time = #2

2. San Francisco, CA

Univers

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Research

No surprises here. San Fran comes in as the second-best place to live in the states with regards to public transit and accessibility to jobs. It’s also rated as one of the best cities for millennials in the US.

  • 10-Minute Commute Time = #2
  • 20-Minute Commute Time = #2
  • 30-Minute Commute Time = #2
  • 40-Minute Commute Time = #2
  • 50-Minute Commute Time = #2
  • 60-Minute Commute Time = #3

1. New York, NY

new york jobs 2

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Research

As you could have guessed, the Big Apple tops our list of US cities with the best public transport. New York is the largest employment center in the country, with 297 jobs per square mile. Whether you’re an hour away or right around the corner, New York is the best in the nation.

  • 10-Minute Commute Time = #1
  • 20-Minute Commute Time = #1
  • 30-Minute Commute Time = #1
  • 40-Minute Commute Time = #1
  • 50-Minute Commute Time = #1
  • 60-Minute Commute Time = #1

 

 

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About the author

Jordan Scheltgen

Jordan Scheltgen

Jordan is an avid traveller, writer and football fan. He can almost certainly be found doing one of those three things.

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