Some American cities, like New York, have world-leading transit systems: you can go most places without taking a car. Some places—like Arlington, Texas—you really have to take a car: there's barely any transit at all.
Among cities of 100,000-plus people, New York and Arlington represent two poles in the urban universe: the best and worst cities for transit, according to a new tool from the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and TransitCenter, two non-profits. AllTransit maps 15,000 routes and 543,000 transit stops nationwide, and ranks cities by their performance across three metrics: availability and frequency of service, and how much the service is used.
"It answers the question, 'Can I walk out the door and get a bus or a train?'" says Peter Haas, CNT's chief research scientist. "But the energy behind the site is, we answer the questions, 'Is a bus going to pull up when I walk out the door?' and 'Has the transit agency done a good enough job that the service is used?'"
Taking those three metrics together, N.Y.C. scores 9.6 out of 10. For an average block group in the city, there's a transit option every 32 seconds and 18 transit options within a half-mile radius (If you limit New York to just Manhattan, it has a perfect 10 score). Almost 60% of New Yorkers use transit to get to work—the highest percentage in the nation.
Also impressive are San Francisco (which scores 9.59), Boston (9.44), Washington D.C. (9.34), and Jersey City (9.17). Arlington, meanwhile, has a score of 0.13 (0.35% of people there use transit, according to the site). Oklahoma City has 2.81 points, and Plano, Texas, has 2.87.
The nice thing about the tool is you type any address and see the transit score for that point. So, for example, the White House has a score of 9.8 while the Grand Canyon has precisely zero (as you would expect). It also shows jobs within a 30-minute transit trip. From the best block in Madison, Wisconsin, you can access 197,000 of them, for example.
If you're planning where to live, or where to base an office or factory, the site could be invaluable. It shows your options immediately, relative to the rest of the country.