The 30 U.S. Cities With the Best Public Transit

Pan Xunbin / Shutterstock.com

Finding a home with easy access to public transit is a wonderful thing. In the United States, though, it’s rare. Less than 1 percent of homes for sale are located in what real estate company Redfin calls a “rider’s paradise.”

In addition to walkability, Redfin’s Walk Score website rates homes, cities and neighborhoods with Transit Scores that indicate the accessibility of public transit including buses, rail and light rail, subways and ferries.

In an earlier study, Redfin also looked at how transit affects property values. It analyzed roughly a million real estate transactions in 14 U.S. cities that occurred between January 2014 and April 2016 and concluded that each additional point of a Transit Score increased the price of a home by an average of $2,040, or 0.6 percent.

The Transit Score rankings interpret the point assignments this way:

  • 90-100: Rider’s Paradise. World-class public transportation
  • 78-89: Excellent Transit. Transit is convenient for most trips
  • 50-69: Good Transit. Many nearby public transportation options
  • 25-49: Some Transit. A few nearby public transportation options.
  • 0-24: Minimal Transit. It is possible to get on a bus.

Here’s the ranking’s top 30 U.S. cities for public transit:

30. Rochester, New York

Rochester, New York
Sirichai netthong / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 43.2
Population: 210,565

29. Cincinnati, Ohio

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 43.6
Population: 296,943

The Southbank Shuttle, managed by the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky, ferries residents and visitors back and forth across the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Newport on the Levee, a dining and attraction destination in Newport, Kentucky.

28. New Orleans, Louisiana

Street car in New Orleans
TFoxFoto / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 44.2
Population: 343,829

27. St. Louis, Missouri

Metro in St. Louis.
Jon Rehg / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 45.2
Population: 319,294

Since 1949, the adjacent states of Missouri and Illinois, on either side of the Mississippi River, have jointly provided public transportation in the St. Louis region with service reaching some 200 cities and towns.

26. Santa Ana, California

sevenMaps7 / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 45.5
Population: 324,528

25. Atlanta, Georgia

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 46.0
Population: 420,003

The Five Points Station (above) is the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s central hub.

24. Cleveland, Ohio

Kenneth Sponsler / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 47.1
Population: 396,815

Want to visit Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? You can get there on an RTA Rapid Transit train. Hop off at the North Coast station (above).

23. St. Paul, Minnesota

Ben Harding / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 47.4
Population: 285,068

St. Paul’s Metro transit carries people from one end of the city that abuts Minneapolis to the other.

22. Denver, Colorado

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 47.8
Population: 600,158

Riders can go just about anywhere in Denver by bus or rail, says Denver.org, a trade association that markets the city. Union Station (above) is a downtown light rail stop.

21. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 48.5
Population: 594,833

Milwaukee’s far-northern winter skyline includes icy Lake Michigan.

20. Buffalo, New York

jiawangkun / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 49.5
Population: 261,310

A Buffalo Metro Rail train glides past the landmark 1899 Buffalo Savings Bank building.

19. Long Beach, California

Long Beach metro stop
Leigh Trail / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 51.4
Population: 462,257

18. Portland, Oregon

TFoxFoto / Shutterstock.com


Transit Score: 51.4
Population: 583,776

Portland residents use a variety of transportation options, from the popular Max light rail to buses, commuter rail and streetcars like this one (above), near the city’s Burnside Bridge.

17. Los Angeles, California

trekandshoot / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 51.5
Population: 3,792,621

Los Angeles is known for its freeways, but the city’s subways, light-rail, buses and shuttles reach “nearly every corner of the Greater Los Angeles area,” says the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, which promotes Car Free L.A., a series of self-guided “car-free” vacation itineraries. Pictured above is the Chinatown light rail station.

16. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 54.4
Population: 305,704

Pittsburgh’s historic Pennsylvania Station, finished in 1903, was the city’s railway hub for many years. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places, and today it is joined to a newer Amtrak station next door. A regional network of 10 transportation agencies links Pittsburgh and the 10-county Southwestern Pennsylvania region by train and bus.

15. Oakland, California

Oakland bridge
Micha Weber / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 56.3
Population: 390,724

The San Francisco Bay Area’s rapid transit trains, known as the BART system, serve Oakland, the East Bay communities and San Francisco.

14. Baltimore, Maryland

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 57.2
Population: 620,961

Baltimore’s historic Penn Station is the hub for three services — Amtrack, MARC commuter trains and the Maryland Transit Administration’s light rail system.

13. Miami, Florida

Rudy Umans / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 57.2
Population: 399,457

You can get around Miami using buses and rail, including this automated downtown train system.

12. Honolulu, Hawaii

Osugi / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 57.2
Population: 337,256

TheBus carries residents and tourists around Honolulu and the rest of the island of Oahu.

11. Minneapolis, Minnesota

miker / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 57.6
Population: 382,578

Minneapolis’ hybrid electric buses are part of a commitment to cut emissions from vehicles.

10. Arlington, Virginia

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 58.8
Population: 207,627

Despite the Washington, D.C., area’s famous gridlocked traffic, nearby Arlington is “a well-connected and transit-oriented county” where you can live “car-free” in many central neighborhoods, Redfin says.

It has a bike share program and enjoys access to the D.C.-regionwide Metro system of bus and rail as well as the local Arlington Transit, which uses natural gas buses to connect neighborhoods to Metrorail and operates cross-county routes.

9. Seattle, Washington

Seattle light rail, in motion
vewfinder / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 59.6
Population: 608,660

Buses and trams, as well as a monorail dating to the 1962 World Fair, provide transport within the city. A new light rail system now connects travelers along a north-south axis, from one stop beyond Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEATAC) in the south, to the University of Washington on the northern side of Seattle, and it continues to expand.

8. Chicago, Illinois

Steve Hamann / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 65
Population: 2,695,598

Here, the Chicago Transit Authority’s famous Elevated Electric Train — or “The El” — crosses the Wells Street Bridge.

7. Newark, New Jersey

LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 65.2
Population: 277,140

NJ Transit light rail trolleys, including this one at Washington Park Station, are part of a complex system connecting Newark, surrounding New Jersey communities and New York City’s Penn Station.

6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at dusk
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 66.8
Population: 1,526,006

5. Washington, D.C.

Washington DC subway
Orhan Cam / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 68.5
Population: 601,723

Residents of Washington, D.C., and the surrounding suburbs use Metrorail and Metrobus to avoid the city’s legendary traffic gridlock. The Smithsonian Metro station is pictured above.

4. Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City, New Jersey street scene.
astudio / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 70.6
Population: 247,597

Jersey City, New Jersey’s second-largest city (after Newark), has excellent public transportation. What’s more, residents can do most of their errands by foot, making it extremely “walkable.”

3. Boston, Massachusetts

Mark_and_Anna_Wilson / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 72.6
Population: 617,594

One chapter in Boston’s long history of public transit is famously memorialized in a 1959 song, “MTA,” by the Kingston Trio (lyrics and song sample are here on Google Play) about a hapless subway passenger, Charlie, who for the lack of a nickel could not exit his train (then the Metro Transit Authority) and was condemned to “ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston.”

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority operates the city’s trains, buses, trolleys and ferries.

2. San Francisco, California

Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 80.4/strong>
Population: 805,235

The city’s iconic cable cars are the least of San Francisco’s rich public transportation network. Besides Muni buses, trains, cable cars and streetcars that connect the city’s neighborhoods, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) elevated and subway trains connect the city with Oakland and the East Bay, the CalTrain commuter rail line connects the city with the San Francisco Bay Peninsula cities to the south, and ferries ply the waters between the city, Oakland and Sausalito. The Powell Street Muni station is shown above.

1. New York, New York

Linda Moon / Shutterstock.com

Transit Score: 85.3
Population: 8,175,133

In 2016, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority opened the new 34th Street-Hudson Yards Station, extending subway service for the first time in 26 years. New York is known for its public transportation, with bike-share programs and many miles of bike lanes as well as buses, subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road. Since the city is so densely populated with block after block chock-full of services, many New Yorkers live their entire lives without owning a car.

How is the public transportation in your area? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Retiree Households Lose $111,000 to This Social Security Misstep
Retiree Households Lose $111,000 to This Social Security Misstep

A study finds 96% of retirees make this mistake when claiming Social Security benefits.

How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases
How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases

Stop getting sucked into paying a premium when good alternatives are available at huge savings.

How Baby Boomers Are Earning an Extra $573 a Month
How Baby Boomers Are Earning an Extra $573 a Month

In the gig economy, baby boomers are out-hustling their younger competition. You can cash in, too.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station
The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station

Beware these cash-guzzling missteps when you stop at any gas station.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles
The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles

One automaker takes half the spots on a list of the longest-lasting vehicles.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco
9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco

Are you missing out on serious savings at your favorite warehouse club?

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic
11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic

Many goods we take for granted have become tough to find in 2021.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

9 Millionaires and Billionaires With Surprisingly Frugal Habits
9 Millionaires and Billionaires With Surprisingly Frugal Habits

Some of the world’s richest women and men drive modest cars, clip coupons and love a bargain.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.