Here’s How Commuter Costs Stack Up in Redfin’s Top 10 Transit Systems

man traveling in a bus
franckreporter/Getty Images
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

Commuting to work is one of those necessary evils we all endure (unless you happen to work from home).

Depending on where you live and work, taking public transportation can help save you time and money. But not all transit systems are created equal.

Real estate site Redfin recently released its 2018 list of the top 10 cities for public transit. The cities were ranked using Redfin’s “Transit Score,” a trademarked indicator of the convenience of using public transportation in a given location.

Using a scale from 0 to 100, the top 10 cities were ranked as followed:

  1. New York — 85.3
  2. San Francisco — 80.4
  3. Boston — 72.6
  4. Washington, D.C. — 68.5
  5. Philadelphia — 66.8
  6. Chicago — 65.0
  7. Seattle — 59.6
  8. Minneapolis — 57.6
  9. Baltimore — 57.2
  10. Honolulu — 57.2

According to the transit score methodology, scores between 50 and 69 indicate areas that are good for transit with many nearby public transportation options. Scores between 70 and 89 indicate cities that are excellent for transit, where public transportation is convenient for most trips.

What wasn’t factored into the scoring was the cost of the commute.

Being the Penny Hoarders we are, we couldn’t help but look into the public transportation fares in the 10 cities on Redfin’s list. We specifically focused on the cost of a monthly transit pass, because it’s generally beneficial for regular commuters to choose multi-day options rather than paying the fare for each individual trip they take.

Here’s how the cities stacked up financially:

  1. Boston — $55 (or $84.50 for additional subway or commuter rail options)
  2. Honolulu — $70
  3. Washington D.C. — $70 (for four weekly Metrobus passes)
  4. Baltimore — $72
  5. San Francisco — $75 (or $94 for commuters needing to travel between BART stations)
  6. Minneapolis — $90 (or $65 for monthly passes to travel outside of rush hour time frames)
  7. Seattle — $90
  8. Philadelphia — $96
  9. Chicago — $105
  10. New York — $121

Commuters in our nation’s capital pay the least per month of the top 10 metros. Though Washington D.C.’s Transit Score in the top 5 and just shy of an “excellent” rating, it has dropped 2.2 points since 2016’s rankings.

Redfin Washington, D.C., agent John Marcario said the transit system’s decision to reduce service and shut down certain lines for repair has caused frustration among riders but that D.C. home buyers are still paying a premium to live near a Metro station.

Commuters in Boston pay the least per month of the top 10 metros — but only for commuters just taking local bus routes. Those who regularly travel via subway or commuter rail pay more.

Though New York had the highest Redfin Transit Score (despite some New Yorkers’ transit horror stories), commuters in the Big Apple pay the most for monthly transit fare of the 10 cities.

Still, $121 a month can be a steal compared to paying to have a car.

According to Experian, the average new car loan payment was $502 in the third quarter of 2017, and the average new car lease payment was $412. The average used-car payment was $365.

And that’s not factoring in the cost of insurance, gas, parking or other expenses associated with owning a car.

Of course, not all areas are conducive to taking public transportation. To get more insight on your city, Redfin’s Walk Score lets you plug in your location and find out whether it’s great for taking public transportation, walking or biking — or whether you’d likely need to depend on driving a car.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She commutes to work via public transit.