The 10 US cities with the best public transportation systems

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U.S. Cities With The Best Public Transportation Systems Ranked

Driving to work can be a nightmare.

As cheap gas prices and the strong economy continue putting more motorists on roads, traffic congestion keeps getting worse and worse.

In fact, it has been estimated that the average urban commuter wastes about 42 hours a year stuck in traffic jams -- aka, the time it takes to watch the entire Harry Potter series TWICE.

According to a report published by The Texas Transportation Institute, Washington, D.C. has the worst gridlock in the country, with commuters wasting 82 hours a year stuck in traffic, nearly twice the national average.

But people still have places to go and people see, and thus, they turn to buses, subways and trains to get from A to B.

In light of this, it's no wonder that Washington, D.C. ranks number one on SmartAsset's list of the top 10 best public transportation systems in the country.

To arrive at their ranking, the personal finance website considered following factors:

  • The average commute time for transit users
  • Percentage difference between average commute times of car commuters and transit users
  • Percentage of commuters who use public transit
  • Total number of commuters who use public transit
  • The difference between the citywide median income and the median income of transit users

Coming in second place is San Francisco, which has a large ridership on its cable cars, buses and commuter trains.

In third is the city of Boston which operates extensive subway and bus lines, and provides around 390 million rides annually.

A press release notes a strong annual ridership of more than 200 million trips on the Metro subway and 130 million trips by bus; the typical commute time was also below average.

And rounding out the top five are Chicago and New York City.


Here are the top ten cities in order:

1. Washington, D.C.
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Washington, D.C.
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The 10 US cities with the best public transportation systems

USA, Columbia, Washington DC, Capitol Building

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A dark brown Sheriff's helicopter is pictured hovering in the foreground of the photo during President Barack Obama's Inauguration. The Washington Monument and Capital Building are visible in the background along with the massive crowd on the Mall.

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US Capitol building at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue

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Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States. The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the countrys East Coast. The National Mall is a national park in downtown Washington, D.C. The National Park Service (NPS) administers the National Mall, which is part of its National Mall and Memorial Parks unit. The term National Mall commonly includes areas that are officially part of West Potomac Park and Constitution Gardens to the west, and often is taken to refer to the entire area between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol, with the Washington Monument providing a division slightly west of the center.

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Pennsylvania Avenue at dusk

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Early sunrise over a serene tidal basin with cherry trees in foreground and Washington Monument in background. Taken during fall colors on the cherry trees.

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10th and Massachusetts Avenue, with moving traffic, at dusk.

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Bright red and orange sunrise at dawn reflects Washington Monument in new reflecting pool by Lincoln Memorial

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Abraham Lincoln Memorial

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Washington DC, USA

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2. San Francisco, California
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The 10 US cities with the best public transportation systems

Golden Gate Bridge over San Francisco Bay, California, United States

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San Francisco skyline at sunrise from Marin Headlands, San Francisco, California, USA

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Skyline of Financial District, San Francisco, California, USA.

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Old houses in Alamo Square, known as the Painted Ladies, San Francisco, California, United States

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Alamo Square, Painted Ladies, Postcard Row, San Francisco

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Downtown San Francisco as seen from Twin Peaks. Market Street cuts straight down the center of the frame, and in the background the Berkeley and Oakland hills can be seen across the bay, on the other side of the Bay Bridge.

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USA, California, San Francisco, View of full moon over Golden Gate Bridge

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The Golden Gate Bridge from Baker's Beach in San Francisco, California, USA

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Skyline of San Francisco at dusk

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Embarcadero Center is a group of office towers and hotels located near the Ferry Building and the Embarcadero in San Francisco. The complex intersects the daily business of the Financial District with tourists and travelers from around the world. The Embarcadero Center towers have edge lighting which is illuminated during the holiday season in November and December.

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3. Boston, Massachusetts
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Acorn street in Beacon Hill

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Boston Harbor viewed from Ft Poi

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Old State House, Boston, MA, on the Freedom Trail. Built 1713, center of British Government before 1776. Georgian-style architecture. Corner of State Street and Devonshire Street.

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Boston skyline and Charles river, Massachussets, USA.

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'Boston city skyline at Rowes Wharf , dusk, USA'

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blurred figures outside the food hall of Quincy Market at night

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Restaurants at Liberty Wharf (Seaport area), Boston, Massachusetts.

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Aerial of Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.

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Harvard University at Night

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Trinity church, Boston, Massachusetts.

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4. Chicago, Illinois
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'Chicago skyline, USA'

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Brilliant blue sky above new towers, Chicago USA

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USA, Illinois, Chicago, the 'Bean' at Millenium park with reflection of buildings on Michigan Avenue.

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USA, Illinois, Chicago, Skyscrapers reflecting in road mirror

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USA, Illinois, Chicago, Aerial view of Lake Shore Drive

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Aerial view of Chicago downtown at twilight from high above.

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USA,Illinois,Chicago,skyline illuminated at night

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Visitors to Navy Pier spin on rides at dusk in Chicago, Illinois.

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Magnificent Mile, Chicago, Illinois, USA,

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5. New York City, New York
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New York City sights, landmarks
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The 10 US cities with the best public transportation systems
New York City downtown and Brooklyn bridge
new york city august 07 the ...
A yellow rose stands wedged into the name of Donald Simmons at the South Pool of the National September 11 Memorial, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in New York. Volunteers placed yellow roses into the names of veterans who died at the World Trade Center on September 11 as part of a five-day Salute to Service in recognition of Veterans Day. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
The Empire State Building in New York City, Manhattan.
New York City, Manhattan, New York, United States, North America
New York City, New York, United States, North America
statue at rockefeller centre, fifth avenue, new york, usa
ABC NEWS - 9/24/15 - Coverage of Pope Francis' visit to New York City to celebrate Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral which will air on all ABC News programs and platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)
Ice skaters having fun in New York Central Park in fall
View of the midtown Manhattan skyline and Central Park in New York City.
View of Citi Field during the Philadelphia Phillies versus the New York Mets baseball game on Monday, May 28, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
This photo shows an ariel view of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx boro of New York, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
An ariel view of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
The George Washington bridge spans the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
People walk by the Museum of Modern Art store, in New York, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
The Metlife building looms above Grand Central Terminal on Friday, July 5, 2013 in New York. It opened in 1963 as the Pan Am Building, then headquarters of Pan American World Airways, before it was sold to Metlife in 1981. Completed in 1913 and celebrating its 100th birthday, Grand Central was hailed as the largest and greatest railway terminal in the world. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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6. Seattle, Washington
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Seattle, Washington
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The 10 US cities with the best public transportation systems

Seattle cityscape

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USA, Washington State, Seattle skyline and Mount Rainier

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Yellow and purple crocuses burst from the ground in a city green next to a concrete sidewalk in Seattle, Washington.

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The Space Needle seen at sunset

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Night shot in downtown Seattle.

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Illuminated ferris wheel on urban waterfront at night, Seattle, Washington, United States

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7. Jersey City, New Jersey
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Jersey City, New Jersey
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Skyline of Jersey City, NJ as seen from a boat in New York Harbor.

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Springtime in New York City

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Boats docked in marina along waterfront, Jersey City, New Jersey, USA

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USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Liberty State Park, view through 9/11 memorial

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The Jersey City Skyline

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8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Pittsburgh, downtown with Golden Triangle and Monongahela River at sunrise

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Sunny day in Pittsburgh, tourist ship on the river near the downtown waterfront

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USA, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Cityscape

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Pittsburgh Skyline at Night

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, North America

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Travelers at Pennsylvania Station

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The statue of Pittsburgh Pirate Bill Mazeroski.

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A steel mill belonging to the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company, Pittsburgh, Pennysylvania, USA, circa 1960.

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Kentucky Avenue homes, Shadyside

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9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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The 10 US cities with the best public transportation systems
Shown is the Philadelphia skyline on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Shown is the Liberty Bell near Independence Hall, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Chairs are set up in front of Independence Hall before the arrival of Pope Francis where he is expected to speak from the lectern used by President Abraham Lincoln during the Gettysburg Address, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Tourists stand for a photograph in front of the LOVE sculpture at Love Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Philadelphia, the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is the center of the state's economic activity as well as home to seven Fortune 1000 companies. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People walk past the fish market at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Philadelphia, the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is the center of the state's economic activity as well as home to seven Fortune 1000 companies. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
City Hall stands in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Philadelphia, the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is the center of the state's economic activity as well as home to seven Fortune 1000 companies. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Visitors sit at the fountain of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Friday, May 8, 2015. Philadelphia, the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is the center of the state's economic activity as well as home to seven Fortune 1000 companies. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Travelers walk through the 30th Street train station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Philadelphia, the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is the center of the state's economic activity as well as home to seven Fortune 1000 companies. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Comcast Center, center, building stands in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Philadelphia, the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is the center of the state's economic activity as well as home to seven Fortune 1000 companies. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Pedestrians walk along Elferth's Alley, thought to be the nations oldest residential street, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Philadelphia, the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is the center of the state's economic activity as well as home to seven Fortune 1000 companies. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
In this Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 photo, a plaque is seen on the side of a home on Elfreth's Alley, one of the nation's oldest residential streets, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Shown is the National Historic Landmark Carpenters' Hall which hosted the First Continental Congress, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this image taken with a fisheye lens, Citizens Bank Park fills with fans during the pre-game ceremony for the Philadelphia Phillies home-opener baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Friday, April 5, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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10. Oakland, California
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Oakland, California
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The 10 US cities with the best public transportation systems

Aerial shot of Lake Merritt in Oakland, California.

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'Aerial shot of Lake Merritt, Oakland, California'

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Office Buildings Around Lake

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Oakland City Hall is a beautiful Beaux-Arts style building which was completed in 1914. The United States Federal Building (left), and the California State Office Building (right).

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Man walking along Lake Merritt at sunset.

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Oakland Bay Bridge at Sunset, San Francisco CA

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Oakland Skyline at dusk

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