Green Your Life

Published on February 2nd, 2014 | by Sandy Dechert


New Scores/Apps For Car-Free U.S. City Transit

February 2nd, 2014 by

2014 Top 10 Cities for transit
The website that brought renters, homebuyers, and realtors a powerful index of walkability has done it again, this time for public transit (source:

At the end of January, Matt Lerner, CTO of Walk Score, announced a new ranking of the average resident’s access to public transit in a city. It’s based on data released in a standard format by public transit agencies.

Lerner cites growing evidence that buying a house or renting an apartment near public transit is a smart idea.

• First, it’s likely a better investment.  The National Association of Realtors found that home values performed 42% better when they were located near public transit.  In Boston, a recent study showed that home prices near public transit outperformed the region by 129%.

• Living near public transit saves you money. The average American spends $9,859 per year on their car. Did you know this is the equivalent of a $135,000 mortgage?!  Transportation is the second largest expense for American households.

• And living near good public transit might just make you happier—after all, nobody likes being stuck in traffic.

How cities can score re transitThe company looked at over 1.9 million locations in 316 cities (almost 7,000 neighborhoods) for places to live with better commutes and more transportation choices. Scorers used a population-weighted methodology to compute each city’s average Transit Score. Above, the scoring scale for transit access.

Walk Score also ranked the nation’s Top 10 cities of over half a million residents to compile a Top 10 list:

Top 10 transit-friendly cities

“In order to normalize from 0 to 100, we need to pick a ‘perfect score’ location. To do this, we averaged the Transit Score of [central cities in the Top 10] where we had full transit data (San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Portland, and Washington, D.C.) to create a canonical 100 Transit Score.”

A corollary analysis split the nation into four regions and calculated the top 3 cities in each (see photo above).

“The older Northeast cities with established subway systems have the highest scores.  West Coast cities that have made more recent investments in light rail also score well.  Although cities in the south have a low average Transit Score of 38, there are many neighborhoods with high scores such as Downtown Houston or the Brickell Neighborhood in Miami.”

Walk Score offers an iPhone app and an Android app to help you find the best public commutes. As well as public transit access and walkability rankings, the company has previously generated a detailed scorecard on metro bikeability.

All told, Walk Score has contributed another pioneering and valuable new tool here for home seekers and realtors. Look for an update soon on some questions and tweaks about Walk Score’s methodology and presentation.

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About the Author

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm, writes two top-level blogs on, ranked #2 on ONPP's 2011 Top 50 blogs on Women's Health, and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."

  • James Paulson

    Love it! As a native Chicagoan, it’s good to see us ranked up there, but not nearly as high as I would like.

  • James Paulson

    Love it! As a native Chicagoan, it’s good to see us ranked up there, but not nearly as high as I would like.

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