Redfin Unveils the Best U.S. Cities for Public Transit in 2019

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New York, Union City, NJ; and San Francisco claimed the top three spots in the U.S., according to the latest Transit Score® update.

New York, Union City, NJ; and San Francisco top the 2019 list of best cities for public transit, looking at cities of all sizes, according to Redfin’s latest Transit Score® ranking. Transit Score, a tool by Redfin company Walk Score®, rates locations based on how convenient they are to public transportation.

In the past, Redfin’s annual Transit Score report typically only examined large cities with a population of 300,000 or more. However 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. “Small 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.”


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Looking at that full list, 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 York’s score of 84 is actually down one point from last year–related to hysteria around L-pocalypse, perhaps? 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 10, proving whether you live in the Big Apple, or across the river for it, getting around won’t pose a problem.

“The outstanding public transportation options in the greater New York City area make it possible to live a car-free lifestyle, while still benefiting from all the area has to offer,” said New York-based Redfin market manager, Nick Boniakowski. “Whether it’s taking the New York City subway around multiple boroughs, or hopping on the PATH train and ferry to commute across the Hudson river to and from New Jersey, residents have a multitude of options without the hassle and expense of driving. For many buyers, the home search starts with the commute, and these options allow residents to accomplish almost any task with a quick walk and a MetroCard.”

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

The Washington, D.C., area demonstrated significant change since last year’s ranking. Our nation’s capital ranked a respectable 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 very likely have something to do with Amazon HQ2’s arrival in Crystal City, located in Arlington. Indeed, 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 not for nothing–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.  

For Transit Score purists, we’ve also compiled the more traditional list, examining just the top 20 cities with a population over 300,000:

 

Rank City Transit Score Change (in Transit Score points) from 2018
1 New York, NY 84 -1
2 San Francisco, CA 80 0
3 Boston, MA 72 -1
4 Washington, D.C. 71 3
5 Philadelphia, PA 67 0
6 Chicago, IL 65 0
7 Seattle, WA 60 0
8 Baltimore, MD 57 0
9 Miami, FL 57 0
10 Minneapolis, MN 57 -1
11 Honolulu, HI 57 0
12 Oakland, CA 56 0
13 Pittsburgh, PA 56 2
14 Los Angeles, CA 53 2
15 Portland, OR 52 1
16 Long Beach, CA 52 1
17 Milwaukee, WI 48 -1
18 Denver, CO 47 -1
19 Atlanta, GA 47 1
20. Cleveland, OH 45 -2

Several cities were measured for Transit Score this year for the first time. New cities include Daly City, CA (52); Pasadena, CA (51); New Haven, CT (48); South Pasadena, CA (46); Gardena, CA (46); El Monte, CA (46); York, PA (40); Bridgeport, CT (40); San Mateo, CA (40); Harrisburg, PA (39); New Britain, CT (38); Moline, IL (37); Darien, CT (37); Waterbury, CT (34); Akron, OH (32); Oxford, OH (31); Flint, MI (31); Vallejo, CA (31); Pasco, WA (31); Poughkeepsie, NY (30); Longmont, CO (29); Knoxville, TN (28); Richland, WA (28); Omaha, NE (27); Walnut Creek, CA (26); Fairfield, CA (25); Dubuque, IA (25); Vacaville, CA (24); Sioux City, IA (24); Meriden, CT (23); Muscatine, IA (22); Clinton, IA (22); Coralville, IA (21); Hanford, CA (21); Simi Valley, CA (21); Mason City, IA (20); Cedar Rapids, IA (20); Murrieta, CA (20); Cedar Falls, IA (20); Greenville, SC (19); Ocala, FL (19); Fort Dodge, IA (19); Thousand Oaks, CA (17); Lawrenceville, GA (16); Marshalltown, IA (16); Middletown, OH (16); Rocky Mount, NC (16); Temecula, CA (16); Hamilton, OH (13); Burlington, IA (13); Fairfield, OH (6).

Want to know how we determine Transit Score? Here’s more information on our methodology:

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. For a more details on the Transit Score methodology, click here.

To see how your home, neighborhood or city stacks up, search walkscore.com or Redfin.com.

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emily-hochbergredfin-com

Emily Hochberg is Redfin's Lifestyle Editor, covering topics related to culture, trends, personal finance, decor, style and more. When not busy typing away, find her daydreaming over Redfin listings (seriously, should she buy and fix up a beach house in Hawaii?) or obsessively planning where to travel next.

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