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The most Public Transportation friendly cities in the US



Investing in real estate requires a keen understanding of various factors that contribute to property value and desirability. One such critical factor is the availability and efficiency of public transportation. This article series aims to provide insights into public transport usage and service levels across key urbanized areas in the United States, serving as a valuable resource for real estate investors and developers.


The data for this analysis is based on public transportation statistics from the past year (April 2023 to March 2024). The regions are defined using Urbanized Area (UZA) boundaries, which the U.S. Census Bureau defines as contiguous areas with a population of at least 50,000 and high population density.


Public transportation systems exhibit greater economic benefits when they expand beyond a certain scale. This is due to cost efficiency in building and operating large-scale infrastructure, reduced unit costs from mass transportation, and the ability to offer more diverse services. Consequently, there is a strong correlation between population size and public transportation usage. The graph below shows the relationship between population size and the number of trips per capita. There is a significant correlation of 0.58 between the number of trips per capita and population size.






New York-Jersey City-Newark, NY-NJ, with the highest population, also shows overwhelmingly high figures in both the total number of trips in public transportation and the number of trips per capita. San Francisco-Oakland, CA ranks high in total number of trips (5th) and trips per capita (2nd), indicating its public transportation friendliness. Other major cities such as Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA; Chicago, IL-IN; Boston, MA-NH; Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD; Washington-Arlington, DC-VA-MD; and Seattle-Tacoma, WA also demonstrate high public transportation trips per capita.


Interestingly, there are exceptions to the trend. Smaller cities like Ames, IA; Champaign, IL; Hanford, CA; State College, PA; and Blacksburg-Christiansburg, VA show high per capita public transportation usage despite their smaller sizes. These cities mostly host universities, suggesting that the younger population drives higher public transportation usage, and they have public transportation systems that are predominantly bus-based.


The tables below show the top 10 urbanized areas for total number of trips in public transportation and number of trips in public transportation per capita. In subsequent articles, we will further analyze public transportation services in U.S. cities to provide valuable information for real estate investment and development decisions.


Total number of trips in public transportation

Rank

UZA name

Total trips

Population

1

New York-Jersey City-Newark, NY-NJ

3,294,555,774

19,426,449

2

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

415,605,821

12,237,376

3

Chicago, IL-IN

341,770,401

8,671,746

4

Washington-Arlington, DC-VA-MD

310,768,776

5,174,759

5

San Francisco-Oakland, CA

276,961,505

3,515,933

6

Boston, MA-NH

245,130,160

4,382,009

7

Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD

209,716,380

5,696,125

8

Seattle-Tacoma, WA

156,805,595

3,544,011

9

Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL

120,241,396

6,077,522

10

San Diego, CA

81,915,155

3,070,300


Number of trips in public transportation per capita

Rank

UZA name

Trips per capita

Population

1

New York--Jersey City--Newark, NY--NJ

169.59

19,426,449

2

San Francisco--Oakland, CA

78.77

3,515,933

3

Ames, IA

70.60

66,342

4

Champaign, IL

63.25

147,452

5

Hanford, CA

61.76

66,638

6

State College, PA

60.34

83,674

7

Washington--Arlington, DC--VA--MD

60.05

5,174,759

8

Boston, MA--NH

55.94

4,382,009

9

Blacksburg--Christiansburg, VA

51.45

72,400

10

Honolulu, HI

50.00

853,252



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