Once again, the wonks over at fivethirtyeight have stumbled across a dull data set on public transportation ridership and turned it into an something more accessible to the average metro rider. Every year, cities of all sizes submit monthly ridership data to the Federal Transit Administration in order to qualify for grants. Fivethirtyeight added these up and ranked cities based on their total number of unlinked public transit trips.
Nothing shocking here. New York, the city with the largest population as well as public transportation system, was well ahead of the pack (surprise surprise). LA is thought of as a car city, but it barely edged out Chicago, with it’s iconic “L” trains, to claim the second slot. Rounding out the top five are Washington and San Francisco, both cities with extensive transit systems and large, urban populations.
Then they took it to the next level. By dividing the annual trips with a total population, they were able to rank cities based on their the average number of trips per capita.
Among cities with populations above 1 million, New York again took the top spot. Including population size caused San Francisco and DC to move up and Chicago and LA to slide. Nashville, Memphis, and Indianapolis had the lowest ridership rates.
There were some surprising results among cities with under 1 million residents. Little known Athens, GA, a college town that is home to the University of Georgia, had the highest number trips per capita in this category and ranked fourth overall. In Atlantic City, NJ, locals use public transportation less than one time per year, on average.
Check out the full list and you will see that, when it comes to transportation, some cities are in a league of their own while others struggle to keep up.
August 1, 2014
By Keenan Orfalae