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Top 10 U.S. cities for public transportation

Top 10 U.S. cities for public transportation

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U.S. News & World Report offers its list of the 10 best cities for public transportation. Did your city make the list? You might be surprised.

Some cities, like New York City or Boston, you just know to forget the car and hop on public transportation.

U.S. News & World Report has come up with a list of the 10 best U.S. cities for public transportation, and there are some surprises -- and notable omissions.

USN&WR's editors don't offer a lot of information about how they came up with it, except that it's based on "data on ridership, safety, and government spending."

No time frame, no sources, but nonetheless it's fun to see what they came up with.

Here's the list:

9. (tie) Austin -- In sprawling Texas, Austin is the lone star of transportation. Boasting 3,000 bus stops along with light rail, its 140,000 rides per day is the highest ridership per capita in Texas.

9. (tie) Denver -- The 2,348 square mile of bus and light rail lines provide service for 331,121 daily rides, and they're expanding. The $6 billion FasTracks program will add 6 light rail diesel commuter rail and electric commuter rail lines, spanning 119 miles.

8. Honolulu -- I would be parked at the beach. But fortunately, for those who want to get around the city, the bus' 107 routes has an average daily ridership of 236,000. It has the 4th highest use of mass transit per capita in the nation.

7. Los Angeles -- Forget traffic jams and smog, L.A. has the 3rd largest transportation system in the U.S. And it's 9,200 employees, makes it one of the largest employers in the region. (Think about that, cities with limited transportation.)

6. San Francisco -- Famous for its trolleys, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, operates 54 bus lines, 17 trolley buses, and 7 light rail lines. The Bay Area Rapid Transit connects San Francisco with Oakland and Berkeley and reaches up to 80 miles per hour. 

5. Minneapolis-St. Paul -- It's a bit of surprise to see Minneapolis this high up the list. But it does boast a light rail and bus lines, with a growing annual ridership. Plus, at the University of Minnesota the buses are free.

4. Boston -- With bus, subway, commuter rail, and ferries, The T has a daily ridership of about 1.2 million. It also has the busiest light rail line in the U.S.

3. New York City -- The subway is king in New York City. It's the largest in the world. And with one of the most expansive transportation systems, more than half of all households do not own a car.

2. Salt Lake City -- It's a surprise to see Salt Lake City this high, and above New York City. But according to U.S. News & World Report, the city earned the spot "in large part because of its heavy investment in serving a large suburban and exurban population." The city has extensive bus and light rail lines, including ski buses. And the Frontlines 2015 project will add five rail lines by 2015.

1. Portland -- "Portland is widely considered one of the nation’s leaders in public transit," the U.S. News & World Report list says. I'm not sure if they picked Portland based on instinct, but it's a good choice. For its size Portland has a large number of options for public transportation. Plus, they have an aerial tram -- not all that efficient, but seriously cool.

I was also surprised to see cities like Seattle -- with its electric buses and expanding light rail -- or Washington D.C. -- with its 39 percent transit ridership -- not make the list. Do you have other issues with the list? Think your city should be on it? Tell us why in the comments below.

Photo: TriMet/Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure