New Jersey Dominates List of Top Public Transportation Cities
August 1st, 2011 by Jay Corbalis
If New Jersey Future Research Director Tim Evans were not on vacation this week, he would undoubtedly write me a long note of caution about putting too much stock in Forbes’ latest ranking of America’s Top Public Transportation Cities. He would note that the ranking is based exclusively on census-gathered “journey to work” data, which is, at best, an incomplete measure of total transit usage, since people take transit for a variety of uses, not just commuting. He would point out the disparities in comparing Guttenberg, N.J. (population: 11,176; area: 0.2 square miles), to New York, N.Y. (population: 8,175,133; area: 305 square miles), since the latter includes relatively auto-dependent areas like Staten Island. Finally, he would talk about the statistical impacts of an outlier, and the fact that many of the New Jersey based commuters counted by this measure are commuting to New York City, which has excellent transit connections itself, making a comparison between Hoboken and New York a bit misleading. In other words, New Jersey would not rank nearly as high in public transit ridership if its residents weren’t able to commute to New York City.
But while Tim is away enjoying Northern California, I will take this opportunity to tout New Jersey’s superiority in public transportation usage anyway. Of Forbes’ list of top 10 cities for public transportation, five are in New Jersey, including the top city, Hoboken.
2. New York, N.Y.
3. Jersey City, N.J.
4. Friendship Village, Md.
5. Bronxville Village, N.Y.
6. West New York, N.J.
7. Guttenberg, N.J.
8. Great Neck Gardens, N.Y.
9. Union City, N.J.
10. Washington D.C.
While New Jersey’s strong showing on this list can be explained partly by the statistical anomalies noted above, it is also the result of conscious development policies and investment decisions that have helped make transit accessible and convenient for residents of New Jersey’s Gold Coast. While the region enjoys a legacy of strong transit connections, most notably the PATH system and a network of ferries, to the largest city in the nation, it has also taken proactive steps more recently to increase transit access. The construction of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line (opened in 2000 and expanded several times since) provides north-south access throughout the region while making connections to PATH and NJ Transit commuter rail service. More importantly, communities along the line, particularly Jersey City and Hoboken, have focused new development around the line, making transit an easy option for new residents in the area.
Finally, both Jersey City and Hoboken have worked to promote walking and biking options in their cities, providing even more alternatives to auto-dependency. So while Forbes’ list may not be the most scientific, towns along New Jersey’s Gold Coast certainly deserve recognition for the work they’ve done to promote transportation alternatives in their communities.