Report: Philly Fifth-Best City for Transit in the U.S.

Walk Score's annual rankings give the city high marks for the availability and usefulness of its transit service. Five city neighborhoods scored a perfect 100.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Eat bus exhaust, SEPTA-haters. It turns out our transit system is one of the best in the country — and makes many Philly neighborhoods great, more desirable places to live.

So say the folks at Walk Score, a subsidiary of the real estate site Redfin, which just ranked Philly’s transit system fifth-best in the country. Walk Score has become hugely popular because of its algorithms that rate city neighborhoods based on their walkability. Walk Score has a similar algorithm called Transit Score that rates city neighborhoods based on the availability of transit service.

Overall, Philadelphia received a Transit Score of 67, which Transit Score classifies as “Good Transit—Many nearby transit options.” That score was high enough to put the city in fifth place among all U.S. cities with 300,000 or more inhabitants.

The cities above us shouldn’t surprise anyone: New York, of course, took the top spot with a Transit Score of 84. San Francisco, with a score of 80, came in second, and Boston placed third with a score of 74. Just above us is Washington, with a score of 71. (All scores are rounded to the nearest whole number, the way users of Transit Score see them displayed.)

The convenience of the SEPTA system helps fuel the rise in property values in many city neighborhoods, says Redfin agent Jimmy Caraway. “While it’s not a perfect system, the people in Philadelphia really do use public transportation a lot. The neighborhoods that have seen the most rapid rise in property values tend to be those with good access to transit. Northern Liberties and Fishtown are prime examples. Buyers are drawn in part due to the proximity to the subway stations and easy access downtown.”

As the Redfin news release announcing this year’s rankings noted, no U.S. city scored a perfect 100—a “Rider’s Paradise” with world-class public transportation. But a number of city neighborhoods in each of the top five cities did, and many more got scores of 90 or better that would also put them in this category. The five Philadelphia neighborhoods that got Transit Scores of 100 are all in Center City: Avenue of the Arts South, Rittenhouse Square, Center City West (the larger territory encompassing the Rittenhouse, Fitler and Logan Square neighborhoods), Washington Square West and Logan Square. It’s no coincidence that all five also rank as “Walker’s Paradises,” according to Walk Score’s ratings, as easy transit access and a high level of walkability go hand in hand.

When it comes to transit scores, it’s no surprise that the top neighborhoods are in right in Center City,” says Caraway. “This is where the subway lines meet, just about every bus runs through there and all of the train hubs are right there within blocks of each other.”

Four other Philadelphia neighborhoods also received Transit Scores that landed them in the “Rider’s Paradise” category: Fitler Square, Center City East , University City, and Powelton Village.

Another 28 Philadelphia neighborhoods received scores in the 70-89 range that Transit Score classifies as “Excellent Transit,” where transit is convenient for most trips.

You can see a complete list of the Walk Scores, Transit Scores and Bike Scores for 77 Philadelphia neighborhoods on Walk Score’s website.