Long Beach’s Transit Ranks Top 10 in Nation (But US Remains Behind Internationally)

Photo by Brian Addison. Graphics courtesy of AllTransit/The Transport Politic.

AllTransit–a scoring system akin to WalkScore and ParkScore by way of a partnership between the Center for Neighborhood Technology and TransitCenter Center for Neighborhood Technology—has ranked the top 10 cities in terms of their transit system and Long Beach placed #9 on the list, nudged between Newark (#8) and Seattle (#10).

Our neighbor to the north, Los Angeles, broke into the Top 20 at #20 while New York City, unsurprisingly, sat at #1 with San Francisco sitting at #2 and ranking highest in the state.

AllTransit uses six metrics to create their rankings:

  • Job access, i.e. number of jobs in the U.S. cities are within ½ mile of a transit stop
  • Economic growth, i.e. number of customer households accessible to businesses within a 30-minute transit commute
  • Health benefits, i.e. the size of an average block within ½ mile of a transit stop (blocks 2 to 5 acres make for better walkability)
  • Transit equity, i.e. number of households with no cars in U.S. cities are within ½ mile of transit
  • Transit quality, i.e. the number of transit trips available to an average block group per week
  • Mobility, i.e. the number of transit trips available to an average block group per week.

To view all of Long Beach’s numbers in terms of how it measured in detail, click here.

However, the more glaring issue remains the country as a whole: this past Sunday, France opened two high-speed rail lines, each traveling at around 200MPH. The 302-kilometer line will connect Paris to Bordeaux while the 182-kilometer line will connect Paris to the western portion of the country.

To break this down in terms of efficiency, if the same train were to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco, it would get riders to and from destinations in three hours flat—with much more people per trip than any plane or bus could imagine.

But what’s more important is how transit writer Yonah Freemark puts its: “What’s remarkable about them is, frankly, just how unremarkable they are; for people in most of the world’s wealthy countries, high-speed rail services of this sort have become commonplace.”

In his scathing criticism of US transit building, Freemark notes that by 2009, the U.S. and China were “in an odd sort of way, in a similar place when it came to transport investment. Propelled into office by a wave of voters who suggested they wanted change, President Obama’s administration released a visionary proposal for high-speed rail that suggested the potential for major new fast train corridors criss-crossing the country. He convinced Congress to pass a stimulus bill with very significant new funds to pay for such lines.”

The initial result was a lack of building, well, anything. Multiple lines were shot down by Republican representatives in the blind hopes that private investors would instead create fast trains rather than the federal government itself.

The ultimate result is that China is moving full-steam ahead with one of the world’s most vast, extensive high-speed rail networks while Californians still only have two viable options to get from SoCal to NorCal: by plan or by car (unless you want to jump the endless hoops of connecting via multiple buses-and-trains the entire way up, in the span of over a half day’s time).

We have work to do—and a lot of it has to do with building more outside our city.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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