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US Cities With The Best Public Transportation Systems

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Summary

  • The US cities with the best public transportation systems are Newark, Long Beach, Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, Jersey City, Washington, DC, Boston, San Francisco, and New York City.
  • These cities prioritize transit frequency, connectivity, and accessibility to keep everyone on the move conveniently, quickly, safely, and efficiently.
  • Public transportation options in these cities include commuter trains, buses, subways, light rail, and water services, providing easy access to popular attractions and destinations.

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The USA is brimming with beautiful destinations, some of which are located within its vibrant cities. Public transportation is nothing new, as it’s the means many travelers always rely on when exploring American cities. Thanks to modern technology, cities like San Francisco and Boston, two American cities with incredible museums, have managed to improve their infrastructure, and now boast some of the most efficient public transportation systems in the country.

According to the latest report by the American Public Transportation Association, data reveals that the 79-billion-dollar system boasts over 430,000 workers employed in the country’s transportation agencies. It also shows that the system comes with incredible amenities; for instance, 79% of buses are equipped with security cameras, 77% offer exterior bike racks, and 78% have automated stop announcements.

That’s impressive enough, but which American cities have the best transport systems? Based on real data, it’s time to find out. Discover some of the US cities with the best public transportation systems working within their networks that keep everyone on the move conveniently, quickly, safely, and efficiently.

The US cities with the best public transportation system were selected using data from ALLTransit, which ranks the destinations’ public transportation in terms of transit frequency, connectivity, and accessibility (documented in tables in each city’s entry below). Each city’s ranking was then primarily based on the Transit Connectivity Index, which shows how well its transit system connects riders to their destinations.

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10 Newark, New Jersey

Transit Connectivity Index: 14.9

Aerial photo of Newark and surrounding areas, New Jersey
By Roman Babakin via Adobe Stock

Aerial photo of Newark and surrounding areas, New Jersey

Newark, New Jersey, offers plenty of things to do, including exploring the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark Museum of Art, and Newark Public Library (the city’s largest library), all made even more accessible by its robust public transport system.

Based on data, Newark is among the cities in the US with the best public transportation systems, with options including commuter trains, buses, and subways. NJ Transit administers the public transportation system of New Jersey and can get people almost anywhere in Newark.

Score

Trips per week

Routes

Transit shed

8.7

5,135

14

42

Guests can buy NJ Transit tickets at vending machines located in bus terminals. Light rail stations, and rail stations. Traveling with kids? Kids, seniors, and certain groups can always enjoy discounts.

9 Long Beach, California

Transit Connectivity Index: 17

A yacht at Long Beach Harbor in Long Beach, California, USA
Shutterstock / Marcus E Jones

A yacht at Long Beach Harbor in Long Beach, California, USA

Long Beach boasts pristine sand beaches, amazing waves for surfers to ride, top-notch museums, and fun adventures for families, including amusement parks. One of the must-visit areas of Long Beach is Belmont Shore, a charming seaside community with colorful shops and delicious cafés and restaurants.

Getting around Long Beach and the spots visitors enjoy frequenting is easy, and vacationers have plenty of options to choose from, including public transportation, which happens to be one of the best in the country.

The city’s public transit is available both on land and water – and it takes tourists to some of the most popular spots in Long Beach, including the stunning Belmont Shore and Cal State Long Beach.

Score

Trips per week

Routes

Transit shed

8.0

3,162

13

47

8 Baltimore, Maryland

Transit Connectivity Index: 17

Baltimore, Maryland
Shutterstock

A beautiful vieww of Baltimore, Maryland at the golden hour

Baltimore boasts one of the most efficient public transportation systems in America and offers multiple options, such as the subway, MARC train, bus services, and light rail.

Administered by the Maryland Transit Authority, Baltimore boasts one of the best public transportation systems in the US, especially due to its connectivity, routes, and the number of weekly trips.

There are plenty of things to do in Baltimore (which visitors can access easily, thanks to its efficient public transport network); travelers can create beautiful memories in the historic Fort McHenry, the National Aquarium, and the American Visionary Art Museum.

Score

Trips per week

Routes

Transit shed

8.4

3,930

11

49

7 Chicago, Illinois

Transit Connectivity Index: 19.1

Chicago downtown cityscape and Lake Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Shutterstock

Chicago downtown cityscape featuring skyscrapers and Lake Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, USA

One of the most beautiful eco-tourism destinations to visit in the US, Chicago is famous for its incredible efforts towards sustainability and is home to plenty of eco-certified hotels and museums that make good use of renewable energy.

The Windy City has multiple bucket list landmarks to visit at least once, including Willis Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and the Magnificent Mile, all made much more easily accessible due to the city’s public transportation system.

Chicago’s public transportation, which is the second-largest in the country, offers a convenient way of getting around the city. Administered by the Chicago Transit Authority, the system operated about 0.7 million rides in just one week.

Score

Trips per week

Routes

Transit shed

9.1

6,190

11

52

The Ventra app is a useful tool that can help visitors track the arrival/departure times for CTA buses and ‘L’ trains.

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6 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Transit Connectivity Index: 20.2

Aerial Photo of Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love
Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

Aerial Photo of Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love

With 67 National Historic Landmarks, plenty of green spaces, and a wonderful restaurant scene, there is never a shortage of things to do in Philadelphia, and the fact the city boasts one of the best public transportation systems in the US makes enjoying its offerings even easier.

Philadelphia’s public transportation system, Southern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), is one of the most impressive in the United States and can take people almost anywhere they want to go. Whether exploring the city or the countryside, rides are always available within a matter of minutes.

Score

Trips per week

Routes

Transit shed

9.0

5,879

12

52

5 Jersey City, New Jersey

Transit Connectivity Index: 21.5

The skyline of Jersey City, New Jersey, from New York Harbor with the Statue of Liberty in the foreground
Shutterstock

The skyline of Jersey City, New Jersey, from New York Harbor with the Statue of Liberty in the foreground

There are plenty of things to do in Jersey City, including Loew’s Jersey Theater, and strolling down the city’s streets in the downtown area. Moreover, its attractions and experiences are easy to reach since Jersey City is one of the US cities with the best public transportation systems.

With almost 50% of the residents relying on public transit to commute to work, New Jersey has one of the highest transit riderships in the US and strives to ensure that transportation services are safe, convenient, and affordable for the public.

Score

Trips per week

Routes

Transit shed

9.3

4,741

11

25

4 Washington, DC

Transit Connectivity Index: 23.3

An aerial view of Washington DC with capitol building
Image by David Mark from Pixabay 

An aerial view of Washington DC with capitol building

Washington DC is famous for many things, such as iconic American history and the incredible museums and monuments that bring millions of people here every year (all of whom need convenient transportation!).

The US Capital’s Metro System, which comprises the Metrobus and Metrorail services, is one of the busiest public transportation systems in the US.

Administered by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). It’s definitely the most convenient and affordable way of navigating the city without worrying about traffic, parking, or the expenses that come with driving.

Score

Trips per week

Routes

Transit shed

9.3

8,095

25

50

3 Boston, Massachusetts

Transit Connectivity Index: 25.6

Boston, Massachusetts, USA historic skyline at dusk.
Shutterstock 

Boston, Massachusetts, USA historic skyline at dusk.

Boston’s subway system is famous for being among the most efficient in the world, and learning how to navigate is considered a challenging part of visiting the city.

The city’s public transportation system is operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) was launched in 1897, making it the oldest in the country. There are plenty of reasons to choose this means to get around, including being the easiest option to reach some of the city’s most iconic tourist attractions, more affordable, and faster than driving.

Score

Trips per week

Routes

Transit shed

9.3

8,241

16

49

2 San Francisco, California

Transit Connectivity Index: 31.7

Cable cars on the corner of Powell St and Bush St, San Francisco, United States
Photo by Ragnar Vorel on Unsplash

Cable cars on the corner of Powell St and Bush St, Downtown San Francisco, United States

San Francisco is known for its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most beautiful bridges in the US. The city is among the top destinations in the US for tourists, so it’s no surprise that it comes with well-established public transit systems.

Tourists will have a lot of options when it comes to getting around San Francisco, with Muni buses and cable cars being among the most popular modes of transport. Visitors can also explore other means, such as ride-sharing apps and taxis, but really, there’s no need because the system is incredibly efficient!

Score

Trips per week

Routes

Transit shed

9.6

11,896

26

37

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1 New York City, New York

Transit Connectivity Index: 34.3

New York City, New York
Shutterstock

A beautiful view of New York City, New York

Home to the iconic Central Park, one of the most beautiful city parks in the US, New York City is famous for having one of the most breathtaking skylines in the world, and there are multiple places to view the NYC skyline. Apart from Central Park, it has plenty of other world-famous attractions, including the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and Grand Central Terminal.

With a Transit Connectivity Index of 34.3, New York City boasts the best public transport system in the US, and travelers can choose from a wide range of options, including subways, commuter trail systems, and buses that connect all five NYC boroughs.

Score

Trips per week

Routes

Transit shed

9.6

13,771

20

42

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