America's Best and Worst Cities for Public Transit

Washington D.C.'s Metro
Washington D.C.'s Metro
iStock.com/kickstand

Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, a new release from Island Press, is undoubtedly a book for transit nerds. But everyone else could learn a little something from it, too. In just a few quick visuals, it's able to distill why transit use is common in some big cities in the U.S., while in others, people are chained to their cars.

The density maps, which we first spotted over on CityLab, highlight where the most people live and are employed in major U.S. cities, overlaying information about how accessible frequent rail and/or bus service is in that area. The combined data show a realistic picture of how accessible certain parts of a city are, illuminating which U.S. cities, and which of their neighborhoods, are easiest to get around without a car.

A density map of D.C. showing where transit is within 0.5 miles
Washington D.C.
Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, Island Press

Sure, there are likely bus lines that run farther out beyond the bounds of downtown, but frequency is one of the most important predictors of whether people actually use transit or not. So is distance—you're not going to get many riders if people have to drive to your bus stop—and while some planners consider a quarter-mile to be the ideal maximum distance to be considered "walkable" distance to transit, others, including those running major transit agencies like the Washington D.C. Metro, use a half-mile as the standard. (The book's author, Rice University urban planner Christof Spieler, served on the board of directors for the Houston METRO from 2010 to 2018.)

A density map of New York City showing where transit is within 0.5 miles
New York City
Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, Island Press

The resulting infographics portray the reality of American transit options. Even in cities we imagine are great for public transportation (New York) there are wide swaths of densely populated geography that are virtually inaccessible. Other cities known for their over-dependency on the car (Los Angeles) actually might have far more transit options than you imagine.

A density map of Los Angeles showing where transit is within 0.5 miles
Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, Island Press

So what U.S. cities have the overall best transit coverage, according to Spieler? He names these cities as the five best: New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

And the most useless? As far as individual rail lines go, Nashville's $41 million Music City Star line carries fewer people than most bus routes. St. Clair County, Illinois, has a MetroLink line running from St. Louis eastward to serve "literal corn fields," Spieler writes. A Cleveland light-rail extension built in the 1990s serves a pathetic 400 people a day. Dallas's system, DART, is the biggest light-rail line in the country, but it "reaches remarkably few places," carrying half as many people per mile as transit in San Diego, Phoenix, or Houston.

In general, recent American transit projects cost taxpayers a ton of money and serve relatively few people—New York, despite having one of the best transit systems in the U.S., has paid $18.9 billion over the last 10 years on a mere three subway stations and one commuter-rail station.

Curious as to how your city measures up? Get the book on Amazon for $36.

[h/t CityLab]

The 2019 Kentucky Derby: By the Numbers

Rob Carr, Getty Images
Rob Carr, Getty Images

The Kentucky Derby—which is often referred to as the "most exciting two minutes in sports"—will return to Louisville’s Churchill Downs Racetrack for the 145th year on Saturday, May 4th. While the historic horse race itself may not last long, the hoopla surrounding it is a much bigger affair (as are the hats).

So grab a mint julep (120,000 of them are served at the event each year) and take a look at WalletHub's breakdown of the finances and fashions surrounding this year's Kentucky Derby.

Source: WalletHub

Here’s How Much a 5-Star Hotel Will Cost You in 100 Popular Travel Destinations Around the World

The Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai
The Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai
iStock.com/Nikada

Sometimes, you don’t mind roughing it in a tent for the sake of a budget-friendly vacation. Other times, you might want to splurge on a nicer hotel with a buffet breakfast and room service. Enjoying the finer things in life doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank, though.

A chart spotted by Thrillist breaks down the cost of 5-star hotels in 100 popular destinations around the world. Travel site Asher & Lyric crunched the numbers, using data from TripAdvisor on the average cost of a weeknight stay at the five top-rated hotels in each destination. The analysis accounted for fluctuating costs from one season to the next, and the chart shows what you might expect to pay during the high season compared to other times of year.

Places like Aspen and the Cayman Islands are predictably among the areas with the priciest hotels, but other vacation spots are surprisingly affordable. Take Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, for instance. This city of skyscrapers is a popular luxury destination—it’s called the “City of Gold,” after all—but its 5-star hotels are the third- cheapest ones on the chart, preceded only by Chennai in India and Manila in the Philippines.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’d spend less money staying in a fancy hotel in New York City, Paris, or Rome during the high season than you’d pay to stay in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole. And if you’re looking to travel domestic, check out Las Vegas, Houston, and Atlanta. Of America's top destinations, these cities offer some of the cheapest 5-star hotels.

Scroll down to see the chart, and check out Asher & Lyric’s website for a detailed breakdown of their findings, including their top hotel picks.

How Much 5-Star Hotels Cost in the Top 100 Destinations Around the World - AsherFergusson.com - Infographic
Researched and developed by Asher & Lyric Fergusson

[h/t Thrillist]

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