How Good Is the Transit Where You Live? Measure It With AllTransit

The top ten rankings are great conversation fodder, but the real strength of AllTransit is its deep reservoir of data, enabling multifaceted analysis of transit quality at many different scales. Table via AllTransit.

Do you have the sense that transit in your city could be a lot better, and you want to show your local elected officials what needs to improve? Look no further: Chicago’s Center for Neighborhood Technology has produced a new tool called AllTransit that assesses the quality of transit down to the neighborhood level.

AllTransit lets you evaluate your local transit system in several ways. You can look up how many people in your city live within a half mile of transit service, for instance, or how many jobs are conveniently accessible via transit from your neighborhood compared to your city as a whole.

The tool combines route and schedule information from 805 American transit agencies with a wealth of Census data, making a broad spectrum of uses possible. With AllTransit, you can compare different facets of transit service across neighborhoods, cities, regions, states, or electoral districts.

To help people summarize complex comparisons, AllTransit offers an overall “performance score” incorporating several factors, including the extent of frequent service and how well transit connects people’s homes to jobs and other destinations.

The emphasis on frequency is unprecedented, said Linda Young, director of research for CNT. “Frequency is so important because it’s really the determinant of how people are going to use transit,” she said.

Here are a few ways you can use the tool, with Madison, Wisconsin serving as an example. Keep in mind that this is by no means a comprehensive list. Below are the city’s performance score and top-level stats — click to enlarge.

Image: CNT
Image: CNT

You can drill down and look at transit accessibility from a number of perspectives. Employers looking to see how many people could get to a potential workplace via transit in a reasonable amount of time, for instance, can call up this view:

Image: CNT
Image: CNT

You can also layer in demographic data to see how well different populations are served by transit. This map shows the share of black residents in Madison who live within half a mile of transit:

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 2.54.44 PM

AllTransit’s ranking feature lets you look up the top performance scores within a given area. Madison rates sixth among Wisconsin cities and towns with more than 5,000 residents:

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 3.00.40 PM

This only scratches the surface of what you can do with AllTransit.

CNT and TransitCenter, which funded the project, see AllTransit as a powerful tool to help local transit and housing advocates, public officials, business leaders, and other interested parties understand the strengths and weaknesses of transit in their communities and make compelling arguments to improve it.

9 thoughts on How Good Is the Transit Where You Live? Measure It With AllTransit

  1. Having lived in five of the top six cities listed (I’m yet to visit Jersey City), I’d rank them as such:

    1) New York
    2) Chicago
    3) Washington D.C.
    4) San Francisco
    5) Boston

    I’ve never understood the hype for San Francisco’s transit network. BART is nice, but other cities on the list have a comparable system and most run more reliably. Regarding their streetcar lines, I can’t possibly understand how they’re held in the same regard as Chicago’s L and New York’s subway.

    Honestly, this list only shows the meager state of transit in the United States.

  2. This is pretty confusing. What about the nights and weekends when our service map disappears like ‘disappearing ink’? Why is the bus agency shown, but our overlapping regional rail agency absent?

  3. What really bothers me is the missing data and it seems there is no way to submit updates. For example, it says that there are zero farmer’s markets in Portland within 1/2 mile of transit. That is flat out wrong as I can name 12 (2 of which are year round), all within 3 blocks (Portland blocks are small too) of transit.

  4. Yes, there are some errors for Madison as well. Notably, the number of bike share locations within 1/2 mile of transit. ALL our bike share locations — 35, I think — are within 1/2 mile of transit, almost all within a block of transit. Maybe they did the survey during the winter, when there is a smaller number open, but then that doesn’t answer how we got 17 Farmers Markets within 1/2 mile of transit, since only a couple are open in winter.

  5. I also noticed that two farmers markets on Madison’s NorthSide are missing. One of these is accessible within the 1/2 mile of transit buffer.

  6. Not to mention that SF is really only the Manhattan to the East Bay (Brooklyn) which has much less useful transit. As to the streetcars in SF, they are okay on a good day…

  7. I’m glad that the survey adds frequency to the mix–if the headways are longer than 15 minutes, it’s going to be very difficult to encourage someone with a car to take transit.

  8. There’s a lot of missing data. I found errors in the number of agencies that service various areas in Southern California. The local Diesel Commuter Railroad is completely left out.

  9. It’s good information from a high level perspective but like the National Transit Map, fails when looked at a ground level. The obsession with farmers’ markets is also bizarre as it is its own subcategory. I get that there are no reliable lists of supermarkets that sell fresh produce, but many farmers’ markets turn out to be primarily arts and craft fairs with maybe a half dozen stalls that actually sell anything fresh.

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