Back in February, U.S. News published an article that was picked up nationwide headlined the "10 Best Cities for Public Transportation." It listed Portland as No. 1 and Seattle as No. 11. Terrible! Well, according to a Portland transportation blog (and echoed by a veteran transportation consultant) the methodology that went into that ranking was probably, for lack of a better word, bullshit.
I called [Danielle] Kurtzleben, the reporter who'd compiled it, to ask about her data sources and methodology. After five emails/tweets/phone calls over several weeks, I finally got her on the phone, at which point she said she couldn't remember exactly how she'd figured the data, except that it came from APTA and the NTD and that it was "very simple." I asked if she could email me the spreadsheet; she referred me to her editor, who said, bewilderingly, that U.S. News policy is to not share the data it gathers.
So I tried to retrace Kurtzleben's steps. Here's the result; my summary is at the bottom of that page. I pulled the data apart six ways from Sunday, based on the somewhat sketchy description in her article, but couldn't come up with any scenario that ranked anybody above New York City, whose ridership and funding ranks dwarf all others.
Basically there seems to be no gauge into what the publication was basing the "Best" in "Best Transit Cities" on. And furthermore, the data that went into the study appears impossible to duplicate.
My one-sentence summary: This article cited out-of-date population figures and was calculated with a methodology that U.S. News refused to explain, based on figures that U.S. News refused to share.