Cities With Best Public Transportation

According to a Texas A&M Transportation Institute study, the average car commuter in the US spends 42 hours every year in traffic and up to 63 in metro areas. Nobody likes to sit in traffic, so cities with the best public transportation offer excellent alternatives. Drivers waste about $960 in the US overall and $1,433 in metro areas each year. Here we’ll present some locations with the best alternatives based on commute time, number of users, and more.

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November 7, 2020 Posted in City Guides

While many cities fall short of this, some provide numerous public transportation options. Buses, subway, light rail, and commuter trains all provide a cheaper and reliable alternative to driving. Long commute time is one of the main reasons to move.

Data & Methodology Used for Ranking

Data used in the text was based on the US Census Bureau’s Community Surveys. The following five metrics were considered in choosing the best systems:

  • Average commute time.
  • The difference between average commute times of public transit and car commuters in percentage.
  • Percentage of commuters that are using public transit.
  • The total number of public transit users.
  • The difference between the median income of a transit commuter and citywide median income.

The first two elements reflect the efficiency of the transit systems. The next two metrics represent the availability, while the last depicts the overall quality of a system. In many cases, the system serves as a backup plan for people who primarily can’t afford to drive or own a car. Smaller income gaps make the system more attractive to any commuter. Let’s find out which cities have the best public transportation. The ranking is also based on accessibility, safety, and reliability.

People on a subway train
Subway may not offer much privacy, but it allows quicker commutes

Washington DC ss One of US Cities With the Best Public Transportation

The first on the list, primarily depending on a subway system and buses, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority manages public transport for the DC area. Handling over 200 million trips each year, the subway system, also known as Metrorail or Metro, is the second-largest system in the US by ridership. In addition to the subway, a great bus system handles about 130 million trips per year.

What makes DC’s system the best in the US, besides its sheer size, is that the typical commuter spends about 36 minutes each day traveling to work. That’s about 8.6 minutes slower compared to a driver’s typical commute time in the district. This is the smallest difference among cities that have a significant percentage of mass transit usage. One of the rare drawbacks of the transport system is the price. According to Greater Greater Washington, depending on the distance you travel, the district’s monthly pass costs can go up to $212.40.

Subway station with people
Washington DC underground network system handles over 200 million trips a year

California’s System Is Dynamic Due to Constant Population Growth

If you’re wondering how to pick a city to live in, one of the unwritten house hunting tips is to look for a place with access to good public transport. Luckily, California cities’ systems are dynamic and complex. Although primarily known for its extensive roads, the freeway network, and car culture, there’s a variety of sea, rail, and air transportation options. If you’re moving to the West Coast, know that there are light rails, commuter rails, and subway networks in the state’s many densely populated centers. With over 39 million people living in California, the government is under pressure to stay ahead of the growing population’s needs and demands.

Oakland Is One of the Cities With Good Public Transportation

The relatively affordable housing market and proximity to San Francisco make Oakland an increasingly attractive living place. Around 21% of residents commute to work by using public transport. Oakland has one of the smallest income gaps between car and public commuters, with the latter having just 2% lower median income. Although you can commute relatively easily when relocating, it’s better to look up some rental trucks for moving. You should always avoid moving furniture in public transportation.

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San Francisco Transportation Development Is Still Ongoing

Going up and down the steep hill, San Francisco’s cable cars are perhaps the most recognizable icon of mass transportation in the US. While a vast majority of their users nowadays are tourists, they used to play an important role in developing the system in both SF and the Bay Area overall. Today, most of the area is served by commuter trains and buses. People traveling from the nearby cities of Oakland and Berkley use the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, which has a ridership of over 220 million each year and rising. In case you want to drive your car instead, look for a reliable auto transport quote. A good long-distance moving company should be able to provide you with the car shipping services you need. Here’s a video showing different commuting options in SF.

Over a Third of Boston Commuters Are Using Public Transportation to Get to Work

All public transportation in Boston is handled by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), while Amtrak handles the rails service for the northeastern destinations. A subway system consisting of five lines, called “the T” by residents, is one of the primary modes of transport. There’s also an extensive bus network. The system handles about 390 million people each year. Around 34% of commuters in Boston use the system to get to work, which is the fifth-highest percentage in the US. In case you’re moving with pets, know that Amtrak’s policy doesn’t allow them on their trains.

Subway train
Around one-third of people commuting to work in Boston use various transport options

Chicago, Illinois, Has One of the Oldest Running Transportation Systems in the Country

One of the oldest transit systems in the US runs in Chicago, Illinois. The South Side Rapid Transit began to operate in 1892, and today, the city’s L trains handle an average daily ridership of about 800,000, making it the third-biggest rail network in the US. A typical public commuter will spend about 43 minutes traveling, which is 10 minutes more than the average driver in Chicago spends on going to work. According to the Chicago Transit Authority, the monthly pass is a lot more affordable than in some other big cities in the US, costing $105.

Train moving
Chicago has one of the oldest transport systems in the US

What City Has the Best Subway System? New York City for Sure

There is no question that New York is one of the cities with the best public transport in the nation, just based on its size. The system handles an enormous amount of passengers, with the subway having over 1.76 billion in 2015. If we include buses in the numbers, they rise to an astonishing 2.6 billion. With over 472 subway stations throughout NYC, residents of each borough can reach Manhattan relatively easily. If you’re moving to the East Coast, know that size isn’t everything, however, since the average commute time in NY is 48 minutes. Although drivers aren’t in a much better position either, the public commute is about 48% longer than the car commuters’ average.

People are sitting on a bench in a subway
NYC's subway system is very developed

Transportation Management Is Getting Better in Seattle, Washington

Seattle has been rapidly growing in recent years, with traffic going from bad to worse in the area. Luckily, there’s room for hope for a Seattle commuter caught in congestion. The answer lies in public transit opportunities. The regional agency Sound Transit completed a light rail system connecting Downtown Seattle to the University of Washington in the north. There’s also a relatively new streetcar line. The number of Seattleites using transit to go to work has increased by 35% since 2011, and the overall number of transit users increased by 3.8%, more than any other major city in the US.

Train on a track
Seattle has one of the biggest increases in transport users

Jersey City Residents Use Public Transportation Often

Part of the New York metropolitan area, New Jersey, is separated from Manhattan by the Hudson River. JC is one of the few places whose transit user has a higher income than a commuter that drives. It’s far more convenient to utilize the transit than to drive here since ferries and trains directly go to Manhattan. 46.6% of workers utilize public transportation, which is the second-highest percentage in a city with a population of 100.000 in the US, behind only NYC. Over 40.6% of JC residents don’t own a car, which is the second-highest percentage in cities with a population of 50,000-250,000 in the country.

New Jersey Skyline
Almost half of the Jersey residents don't have a car, so public transportation is widely used

Pennsylvania Has Many Connections to Other Areas in the Northeast

The state is home to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). The sixth-largest transportation agency in the US operates both light and heavy rails and bus services in the Philadelphia metro area. Intercity bus and coach services are provided by Fullington Trailways, Bolt Bus, OurBus, Megabus, Greyhound Lines, and various Chinatown companies. These connect the cities in the state with other significant points in the Northeast.

Industry Surveys Say That Pittsburgh Residents Mostly Take a Bus

A public commuter in Pittsburgh spends, on average, about 32 minutes traveling to work, which is about nine minutes longer than the average driver commute. The majority of Pittsburgh riders use buses, accounting for 180,000 of 214,000 commuters in a single day. A light rail system that runs both above and below ground levels, known as “the T,” accounts for 28,000 rides each day.

Philadelphia Workers Are Using Public Transport

Approximately 171,000 people working in Philadelphia utilize public transport, and this doesn’t even encompass workers traveling from outside the city. Still, this is the fourth biggest number in the country. The system combines street-level trolleys, commuter rails, an underground subway, trolley, and regular buses. Various trains move about 290,000 people while the buses account for more than 490,000 rides on a typical day.

Subway train
Trains move around 290,000 people each day in Philadelphia

Which Texas City Has Best Public Transportation?

The Texas capital, Austin, has become one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, drawing people from all over the world. Unfortunately, its position around Interstate 35, which serves as a major shipping route between Mexico and Canada, and the rapid population growth have made driving quite unpleasant. This is why many residents are forced to find an alternative option for commuting to and from work. The Capital MetroRail is a commuter rail that serves the Greater Austin area and, according to the official site, has quite affordable prices, with a monthly pass going for $41.25.

Austin, Texas
Austin is developing alternative options to reduce traffic congestion

Check These Additional Moving Tips

Now that you know all about the cities with the best public transport, your interstate moving

can begin. Make sure to check these things to do before moving across the country to avoid any moving stress. Also, if you’re not sure how to choose a moving company, search for reputable state to state movers that suit your requirements. When you hire a cross country moving company, you will learn how to pack quickly for a move and many other useful moving tips. If you’re wondering, How can I ship my belongings to another state look up long-distance movers near you and get some of their moving services. Great overall reviews are usually a sign of a reliable moving company. These can show you some of their moving hacks if you don’t know how to organize your move, and provide plenty of other services, like storage. Furthermore, if you keep a checklist for moving to another state, you’ll have a much easier time packing and preparing all the moving essentials for the first couple of days in a new home.

Lucy Lucas

Born and raised in Miami Lucy is a content writer with a love of moving and packing. She is an expert at making sure everything fits into her suitcase.



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