As Denver continues discussions to expand its regional transit system, a website that rates the level of accessibility of urban transit systems has placed Denver in the middle of the pack of the top 25 U.S. transit cities.
Denver ranks 13th on the list of the best urban transit systems in the United States according to WalkScore, a website that rates the public transportation and “walkability” of neighborhoods as an aid to potential renters and homebuyers.
The city scored 41 points out of a possible 100 in the survey, which measures how well a city is served by public transportation, including the frequency of nearby transit routs, the types of routes offers and the distance to the nearest stop on the route (based on data provides by public transit agencies). A block-by-block “transit score” algorithm as well as the city’s population density is applied and the final score is determined.
Despite landing in the middle of the pack, Denver’s score of 41 isn’t exactly a great one. According to WalkScore’s scale, cities scoring 50 or below “offer some or minimal transit.” Cities with a score of 70 or higher have “excellent transit” and those that score between 50 and 69 have “good transit”.
In the near future Denver’s score could greatly improve, however, as the region continues to expand its transit system, including the FasTracks project that will extend light rail lines from the center of the city to locations such as Denver International Airport.
What isn’t known is if the calculations took into account cities bike rental programs such as Denver’s B-cycle program, which has extended the reach of transportation in the city and affect the definition of public transportation.
New York City topped the list of the best transit cities with a score of 81, followed by San Francisco (80), Boston (74), Washington, D.C. (69), Philadelphia (68), Chicago (65), Seattle (59), Miami (57), Baltimore (57), Portland, Oregon (50), Los Angeles (49) and Milwaukee (49).
Cleveland placed just below Denver, followed by San Jose, Dallas, Houston, San Diego, San Antonio, Kansas City, Austin, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Columbus and Raleigh, North Carolina.
The ranking were determined by the WalkScore Advisory Board, which consists of urban planning, environmental and technical experts from groups such as The Bookings Institution.
The transit scores are particularly significant these days, thanks to ever-rising gas prices, said WalkScore CEO Josh Herst.
“Heading to the gas pump this season is about as much fun as getting a root canal,” said Hersh. “With gas prices expected to hit new highs, more people are riding transit, walking and biking to save money. And being able to leave your car at home more often is great for your wallet, your waistline and the environment.”
The rise in gas prices, along with the search by many for more sustainable transportation options, led Americans to make more than 10 billion trips on public transportation in 2011, WalkScore stated. In addition, members of the “Millennial generation” (those born between 1980 and 2000) are driving less than their predecessors, despite the fact that many of them own cars. WalkScore said the number off miles traveled by car by people ages 16 to 34 years old has decreased 23 percent from 2001 to 2009.