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The 10 Best Cities for People without Cars


Whether you’re a nervous driver or a staunch supporter of mass transit as a means of reducing your carbon footprint, relying solely upon public transportation will require you to live in a city with a suitable public transportation system in place. Of all the cities in the United States, these 10 have the best mass transit systems in place and are most well-suited to traveling sans car.

  1. New York – New York has the second-highest rate of mass transit use in the country, with estimates running as high as 54.7% of the population relying solely on public transportation by the United States Census Bureau. The entire region is quite dependent upon the public transportation system, which does not include taxis or other small-scale people-movers.
  2. San Francisco – When you think of San Francisco, the iconic image of the city’s charming cable cars probably comes to mind. In addition to the cable cars, San Francisco has the BART subway, along with an impressive network of commuter rail, light rail and buses, making it the best city for public transportation on the West Coast and number two in the nation.
  3. Boston – Boston’s place on this list was a given when you consider the fact that it was the birthplace of American subways. The compact layout of the city creates an ideal environment for using buses and trains, spurring a significant chunk of the population to do just that.
  4. Washington, DC – The mass transit system in the nation’s capital is one of the best in the country, due in part to the large influx of both tourists and commuting workers that come in each day. Because the transportation’s infrastructure is so sound, D.C. boasts some of the most walkable suburbs in the entire country.
  5. Philadelphia – The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation System is the fifth-largest in the country with the most comprehensive commuter rail, subway and bus system in the United States. Trolley services run as well, and commuters can access all of them with an $11.00 One-Day Independence Pass or a $28.00 family pass for visitors.
  6. Chicago – With the combined efforts of the el train network and the sprawling bus system, it’s easy to navigate the Windy City without a car. In fact, Chicago is the third-largest city in the nation with the second-largest transportation system due to its role as a major transportation hub in the United States.
  7. Seattle – In 1962, Seattle built a demonstration monorail, but waited for years to expand much beyond it. Today, the home of Starbucks and grunge is in the process of building and expanding a modern network of streetcars and a municipally-sponsored car-sharing Zipcar program.
  8. Miami – With the largest mass transit system in the state of Florida, Miami’s Metrorail, Downtown Metromover, Paratransit and Metrobus systems come together to make Miami a city impressively navigable by public transportation.
  9. Baltimore – With 80 bus lines and a comprehensive transit system running throughout the Baltimore-Washington Metro area, Baltimore’s MTA Maryland connects to several other systems in the region, making it easy to travel with public transportation.
  10. Portland – It’s no surprise that Portland earns a spot on the list of cities with the best public transportation. As one of the most livable cities, with a high collective focus on reducing carbon footprints, Portland is certainly progressive when it comes to eco-conscious travel. Portland natives and visitors alike take advantage of a rapidly-expanding light rail system, as well as the streetcar lines.

To ensure your safety on public transportation, it’s wise to make sure that you’re comfortable with your knowledge of routes, know how to reach your destination completely and avoid riding buses or trains that are totally empty. Staying awake and aware of your surroundings is also important, as distractions can make you a target for criminals. Taking a few extra precautions can mean the difference between arriving safely at your destination and meeting trouble along the way, so don’t neglect basic public transportation safety.

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