Millions of Americans depend on public transit to get around, especially going to and from work every day. It’s a fact that proximity to public transit generally has a positive impact on property values as it adds convenience to the everyday lives of residents in any given neighborhood.
No one enjoys sitting in traffic. It’s highly likely that if many drivers had a better way to commute to work, they might be open to taking a bus or train instead. When the proper infrastructure is in place, public transit can be a lot more reliable, convenient, and even more enjoyable than driving.
But not all public transit systems are created equal. Some cities in the state aren’t exactly known for their impeccable public transit, but others offer systems that make it a lot easier to commute, regardless of whether it’s to work or to any other amenity in the area.
Here are California’s top cities for public transportation.
No list of top public transit cities can begin without mentioning San Francisco. Not only does this city offer the best public transit system in California, it also ranks right up there in top cities in the entire nation.
Of course, San Fran is home to the infamous cable cars that travel up and down the steep hills of the city. Only three of the original 23 cable car lines are still around today, which mainly serve tourists. However, they’re still a real-life reminder of how they shaped the development of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area.
These days, about 98% of residents of San Francisco live within half a mile of public transit. The BART system, San Francisco Bay Area’s rapid transit trains, runs buses and trains that transport commuters within San Francisco as well as out to surrounding cities. Muni, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, operates buses and light rail trains and provides more than 220 million passenger rides annually.
In addition, the CalTrain commuter rail line links San Francisco with cities along the San Francisco Bay Peninsula. It also takes passengers to San Francisco International and Oakland Airports. Of course, there are also all those ferries that take people around the Bay area.
Many people who work in the San Francisco area may find it far too expensive to live there. Luckily, nearby Oakland offers much more affordable housing and is relatively close for commuting purposes. In fact, the median home price in San Francisco is more than double that of Oakland at a staggering $1.365 million compared to Oakland’s $650,000.
In addition to roadways, commuters can also take advantage of the BART system in Oakland as well as in San Fran, which serves Oakland, San Francisco, and the East Bay communities.
San Jose – Santa Clara
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is what provides the majority of the public transportation system in San Jose and the surrounding area, and operates both bus and train lines. It’s so thorough that more than 95% of residents are within three-quarters of a mile from a transit stop. In addition, more than half of city jobs are accessible within a 90-minute transit ride.
CalTrain, a commuter train service, is also a handy public transit service to have on hand, connecting San Jose with San Francisco and several other smaller cities along the San Francisco Bay Peninsula.
L.A. might be known for its abundance of traffic, but what many people might not realize is that the city actually boasts a great public transit system. Almost 1.5 million people ride public transit in Los Angeles every day in order to avoid the constant delays on city streets and freeways. There are over 79 miles of rail tracks in the L.A. public transit system, as well as approximately 2,600 buses serving residents of the city and surrounding suburbs.
Just about every part of the Greater Los Angeles area is well served by the city’s buses, subways, light-rail trains, and shuttles. In particular, the Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood areas top the charts as far as public transit in L.A. is concerned. Union Station in downtown L.A. links all the major buses and subways that branch out of the area.
San Diego has an excellent transit system featuring a trolley line that moves commuters both within and outside of the city limits. The San Diego Trolley is a light rail system that also has service to the Mexican border. The city also connects to the much more elaborate and expansive Southern California Metrolink passenger rail.
The main transportation centers include the Santa Fe Station downtown and the Old Town Transit Center. Both of these hubs not only have the trolley service, but also Coaster (a commuter train) and Amtrak. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (SDMTS), a county-wide bus service, also serves San Diego commuters.
More than 90% of Modesto’s population is within 3/4 of a mile from public transit, which is predominantly made up of the Modesto Area Express. The agency offers regular transit, dial-a-ride local service, and commuter feeder service to the BART system and regional rail systems. In addition, more than one-third of the share of employment in Modesto is accessible within 90 minutes of transit.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to the best public transit systems in the country, cities like New York City tend to come to mind. But California holds its own when it comes to impressive transit systems, even in traffic-heavy city of Los Angeles, making commuting to and from work a breeze.