A Map Of Public Transit All Across America

In releasing a national public transit map, the U.S. DOT hopes to draw attention to those places where options are lacking.

Transport is a key factor in whether someone rises out of poverty or stays there. When a person’s commute time is longer, they don’t have a car, and there’s no decent transit, they’re more likely to stay poor than move up the income scale, recent research shows.


In releasing its new National Transit Map, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) hopes to draw attention to those places with plentiful transit and those that are lacking. The goal is “promote the use of existing transportation networks to connect residents to jobs, education, health, government, and other essential services,” a press release says.

Los Angeles, CA.

The new maps include data from 270 transit agencies–including about three-quarters of the 50 biggest transit agencies–and cover about 10,000 routes and 398,000 stops in all. They’re part of wider effort at the DOT to fund transit as a way of improving economic opportunity and access. Critics of transit policy say too much funding goes to projects in downtowns, not to joining up neighborhoods disconnected from where jobs are located.

The DOT says the national map is a first, though that’s somewhat questionable. These transit maps from the Center for Neighborhood Technology and TransitCenter, two nonprofits, also cover the whole country and are actually more comprehensive. They also rate cities based partly on availability of jobs within walking distance of transit–which accords with DOT’s goals.

The DOT says the maps are not meant to “to replace existing customer services available through transit agency websites and commercial trip planning service providers.” And indeed nobody is likely to see them as a replacement, given their current form. They’re illustrative of the breadth of transit available, but not really whether people might use it or not.

[Cover Photo: Flickr user Prayitno]

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About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.