The Natural Resources Defense Council’s Smarter Cities Project has named the top 15 metropolitan regions for transportation innovation and smart transit, on the heels of a new study showing that superior location substantially reduces a household’s environmental footprint. The study found that households in transit-oriented locations consume less energy than those in conventional suburban locations, even if residents of the suburban home employs energy-efficient building technology and drive fuel-efficient vehicles.
The good news is that “cities across the country are finding innovative solutions to costly commutes by providing cheaper, healthier alternatives,” In America’s Smartest Regions for Transportation, the NRDC cites Lincoln, Nebraska, where low-income riders pay $7.50 for unlimited bus rides all month long, and New York, where residents travel fewer miles in the car than residents in any other region in the country besides Jersey City, New Jersey. 'By and large, ‘location efficient’ places – with essential services that are nearby or accessible by many transportation modes – lower transportation costs for residents,” says Scott Bernstein, president of the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). “Cities and regions that foster compact, walkable, transit-rich communities can reduce reliance on automobiles and help lower at least one expense for households struggling to get by in the current economy.”
The NRDC study, created in collaboration with CNT, compares and profiles U.S. cities based on public transit availability and use; household automobile ownership and use; and innovative, sustainable and affordable transportation programs. How does your city rate?
2011 Smarter Cities for Transportation
Large (population > 1 million)
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
Medium (pop. between 250,000 – 1 million)
Jersey City, NJ
New Haven, CT
Small (pop. < 250,000)
Boston tops the list of transit-friendly metro areas. Photo by Soopy Sue/iStock