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Chicago ranked sixth-best city for public transit in the country

Chicago ranked sixth-best city for public transit in the country
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

Chicago isn't even among the five best cities for public transit in the country, according to a new report from Walk Score. The findings put the CTA behind New York, San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia's transit systems, which seems criminally low. 

The rankings are calculated by "summing the relative usefulness of public transit routes near a given location." In this case, "usefulness" takes into account the distance between transit routes and individual neighborhoods, the frequency of the route and whether that route is a bus or train. While there are certainly pockets of Chicago that aren't served by CTA or Metra trains, there's hardly an area of the city that isn't within four blocks of a bus route, which makes the study's conclusions seem a bit questionable. 

Whether or not public transit in Chicago is better than, say, Philadelphia, the CTA could definitely use some improvements. Last month, the city took some steps in doing so by announcing the return of the four defunct bus routes. The new "Loop Link" is also expected to reduce commute times through the downtown area once it's complete early next year. But even with those improvements, progress on initiatives to extend the Red, Orange and Yellow lines are all but dead in the water. Let's not even talk about the proposed Ashland Bus Rapid Transit system.

Chicago might not have the best rapid transit system in the nation, but ours is at least a step above Boston's. I mean, have you ever tried to get around in that city after 11pm? It's a nightmare. 



Rees P

'Within four blocks of a bus route' is not very useful if the bus isn't running most of the time, like the Cicero bus that doesn't run mid-day, after 6pm, or on weekends. Or the 81W, which only runs twice an hour. Or buses that stop running after 10 pm--hope you didn't want to go out after work with your friends--you'd better be out of that movie theater or restaurant no later than 8:30 or you'll be walking home alone in the dark from the train station. And don't get me started on the bus drivers who race past the bus stops because they "didn't see you". That turns a 20 minute wait for a bus that only runs every 20 minutes (78 Montrose) into a 40 minute wait.

I'm surprised that Chicago made it 6th highest.

Public transport in the loop and areas served by the red line is fairly good. Other areas, not so much.