Which American city has the best public transportation?

NYC subway
Public Domain W.A. Rogers/New York Herald (1905)

A new analyses drills into U.S. Census Bureau data to declare a winner … and it’s not NYC.

As a cheerleader for New York City’s public transportation – even with its soundtrack of distressed birds and 15,000 types of microscopic life forms – I can’t believe that another city could top us! But sure enough, the finance information site SmartAsset crunched a bunch of numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Communities Survey to conclude that Washington, D.C. gets the crown.

Fine, but do they have pizza rats?

Anyway. For the ranking the team analyzed the data to arrive at five metrics with which they ranked cities with a population of more than 175,000 people. They considered: average commute time; the percentage difference between commute times of drivers and transit users; percentage of commuters who use public transit; total number of commuters who use public transit; and the difference between the citywide median income and the median income of transit users. (The last one seems a bit elitist to me, but SmartAsset notes that they used it to measure overall attractiveness and quality of the system. “In many cities where the public transit system is shoddy, only the city’s poorer residents who can’t afford a car are compelled to ride it.”)

Here are the results:

1. Washington, D.C.
2. San Francisco, California
3. Boston, Massachusetts
4. Chicago, Illinois
5. New York, New York
6. Seattle, Washington
7. Jersey City, New Jersey
8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
10. Oakland, California

And the how the cities scored in terms of the metrics:

Heartening news gleaned from the data is that public transportation use is up. The total number of transit users increased 9 percent from 2011 in the 136 cities included in the analysis. And in major cities in the west and in Texas – from San Jose and Dallas to Seattle and Denver – use of public transit rose by more than 20 percent. Which is great, but it would be better to see these numbers increase more, pizza rats or not.

For details on individual cities and more on the ranking, visit SmartAsset.

Related Content on Treehugger.com