The Top Three Markets for
Excellent Public Transportation

Brent Carroll

The measure of walkable/bikeable/transit-friendly markets continues to grow its influence over developers, home buyers and investors. By 2018,’s list of these cities continued to grow, with an additional 600 new U.S. cities and more than 4,000 new neighborhoods joining the database. Overall, Transit Score ratings are now available for more than 900 cities and nearly 15,000 neighborhoods.  Here are the top scoring markets on the transit score list:

New York, NY — 84

Union City, NJ — 81

San Francisco, CA –80

This is according to the latest Transit Score research for 2019. Transit Score is a tool used by Walk Score, a Redfin company. It rates locations on how convenient they are to public transportation.

Cities with a population of 100,000 or more are analyzed for their usefulness of public transit routes (bus, subway, light rail, ferry and others) near a given location. Usefulness is defined as the distance to the nearest stop on the route, the frequency of the route, and the type of route. Twice as much consideration is given to heavy/light rail than bus service. The ultimate score is based on data published in General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format by transit agencies across the country.

Here’s how the scores break down:

90-100: Rider’s Paradise  – World-class public transportation

70-89: 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.

The top cities on the list had a Transit Score of 80 or better. Also note that Union City is a New Jersey suburb of New York City. The high score indicates that these towns offer local public transit systems that are both conveniently located and run frequently.

Actually, New York’s high score has decreased one point from last year. Other New York suburbs also performed well, including Hoboken (#4 with a score of 75), West New York (#6/73) and Jersey City (#9/71).

In Boston, its suburbs outperformed the city, which could be contrary to popular perception about urban live/work/play environments. Cambridge, MA (74) slightly outranked Boston (72).

Following Boston is Washington, D.C. (#3/70.7) and Philadelphia (#4/66.8). However, D.C. showed a dramatic change since its last ranking, rising three points. Neighboring Arlington, VA also scored high (62), which may be related to Amazon’s new corporate location in Arlington’s Crystal City. Amazon was looking for a city with a good mass transit situation; in fact, that was one of the key influencing factors in their decision to go there. Plans are in place to add transportation infrastructure improvements to that new campus.

Earning a good transit score can be gold. In research from 2017, Redfin found that even just one Transit Score point increase can also increase the price of an average home by more than $2,000.

Earning a good transit score can be gold. In research from 2017, Redfin found that even just one Transit Score point increase can also increase the price of an average home by more than $2,000.

Of course, it works both ways. In Orange County, CA, for instance — where parking and traffic are not as congested as New York City — a Transit Score point difference would be insignificant, since most people there prefer to use their cars.

Transit Scores tend to rank higher in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. More than half of the top-listed cities are located there. The West Coast was ranked next, but not by much. Chicago and Oak Park were the only cities ranked highly in the Midwest.

Significant newcomers to the Transit Score rankings include Pasadena, CA (#51), York, PA (#40), Akron, OH (#32) and Greenville, SC (#19).

KBS seeks to acquire properties that have high transit scores. Some of our top-scoring properties include:

Accenture Tower, Chicago, IL – score 100

201 Spear Street, San Francisco, CA – score 100

Granite Tower, Denver, CO – score 98

Commonwealth, Portland, OR – score 97

RBC Plaza, Minneapolis, MN – score 96


Click here to read the entire Transit Score list. 

Learn more about Walk Score here.


The Top Three Markets for<BR>Excellent Public Transportation Executive photo Brent Carroll website A 240x300
Brent Carroll is a senior vice president for KBS and co-director of KBS Asset Management.  Brent oversees over 2.5 million square feet of office space in the San Francisco Bay area, Silicon Valley and Sacramento.