How Does Ann Arbor’s Transit System Stack Up?

The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) recently released a massive new transit database aggregating information from 805 transit agencies across the country.  This awesome new tool, dubbed AllTransit, offers a trove of data, analysis and maps about transit access, frequency and usage in all major (and many smaller) markets in the US.

Ann Arbor AllTransit Map - Bike Commuting.png

A map of central Ann Arbor overlaid with the percentage of bicycle commuters, just one of many data sets that can be easily analyzed and mapped.


The data points are numerous and the site breaks down its major metrics into six categories: Jobs, Economy, Equity, Health, Transit Quality and Mobility Network.  They put this vast data set into an algorithm to derive a simple AllTransit Performance Score, a number from 1 to 10.  They have rankings as well, perhaps it’s unsurprising to see New York City with the overall top score at 9.60.  Ann Arbor fares well, its score of 7.87 is good enough for 14th in the country for cities between 100,000 and 250,000 residents.  It ranks 36th overall with virtually all higher ranked cities being either a major urban center or a suburb of same urban center.

I wanted to pare down the rankings and take a quick look at how Ann Arbor stacks up against comparable college towns across the country as well against various cities in Michigan.

College Town Population Transit Use Percentage AllTransit Performance Score
Cambridge, MA 107,289 29.87% 9.5
Berkeley, CA 118,853 23.22% 8.7
Ann Arbor, MI 117,770 11.05% 7.9
Boulder, CO 105,112 9.90% 7.7
Charlottesville, VA 46,597 9.09% 7.4
Madison, WI 243,344 9.67% 7.3
Chapel Hill, NC 59,376 N/A 7.3
Eugene, OR 160,561 4.52% 6.2
Provo, UT 116,288 2.28% 5.2
Athens, GA 119,648 3.11% 4.0
Average 119,484 11.41% 7.1

Again, Ann Arbor stacks up well.  Cambridge and Berkeley may not be the best comparisons as they are essentially adjacent to major cities with highly established transit networks (Boston & San Francisco, respectively ranked #2 and #4 in the country in this metric).

Michigan City Population Transit Use Percentage AllTransit Performance Score
Ann Arbor, MI 117,770 11.05% 7.9
East Lansing, MI 48,648 6.02% 7.1
Detroit, MI 680,250 9.21% 7.0
Grand Rapids, MI 193,792 4.11% 6.7
Lansing, MI 114,620 4.59% 5.7
Flint, MI 99,002 4.16% 5.2
Battle Creek, MI 51,833 N/A 5.2
Saginaw, MI 49,844 2.16% 5.0
Royal Oak, MI 59,069 0.88% 4.8
Kalamazoo, MI 75,922 2.59% 4.4
Average 149,075 4.97% 5.9

Ann Arbor tops the list in Michigan and in fact, Ypsilanti would be #2 on this list with a score of 7.6, not shocking since the cities are intrinsically linked and share a transit system.  Somewhat surprised to see Kalamazoo at the bottom of this list, a city with a heavy student population and a fairly established bus system.

The possibilities for using this data for city planning, real estate development and affordable housing are endless.  It’s clear Ann Arbor is a leader in transit for its metro size but there are still many opportunities for improvement.  The city has no true high frequency service and the percentage of transit and bike-based commuting has plenty of room to grow.  Hopefully the upcoming service changes at The Ride and future projects like The Connector, North-South Commuter Line, Ann Arbor to Detroit Commuter Line and Washtenaw Avenue BRT Line will continue to make the city more accessible, efficient, environmentally friendly and welcoming to young and old residents.

2 thoughts on “How Does Ann Arbor’s Transit System Stack Up?

  1. I must say you have high quality posts here. Your posts should go viral.
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