The top 25 most transit-friendly university campuses

Posted by Rachel Karitis on 2/21/18 11:52 AM

That time of year is here again, when high school seniors everywhere choose where they're going to college next fall. For most of them, the move-in process won't involve bringing a permanent vehicle — fewer and fewer colleges allow freshmen to keep cars on campus.

NYU City Campus
A small portion of NYU's centrally located campus, with access to all the transportation options New York City has to offer. (Photo: College Magazine)

So the decision to make about where to go to school has to factor in the location and how easy it's going to be to get around sans personal car. We used our MobilityScore algorithm to rank the top 50 universities (according to the 2018 US News and World Report rankings) based on their student union address for consistency's sake. This does not include private shuttle data, as we do not have access to all and wanted to make the ranking as fair as possible.

1. University of Pennsylvania: 100
1. New York University: 100
3. Columbia University: 98
4. University of California - Berkeley: 96
5. Harvard University: 95
6. Boston University: 90
7. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor: 89
8. University of California - Los Angeles: 85
9. Carnegie Mellon University: 82
10. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 77
11. Case Western Reserve University: 76
12. Johns Hopkins University: 71
12. Tufts University: 71
14. University of Chicago: 68
14. University of Southern California: 68
16. Northwestern University: 67
16. University of Virginia: 67
18. Georgia Institute of Technology: 66
19. California Institute of Technology: 65
19. Rice University: 65
19. Vanderbilt University: 65
19. Georgetown University: 65
19. University of Wisconsin - Madison: 65
24. Brown University: 64
25. University of California - Irvine: 62

As a reminder, a score from 80-100 is indicative of excellent mobility, where there are myriad transportation options that come frequently. A score from 60-80 is still indicative of good mobility, meaning there are several transportation options that come frequently enough to get around. All the universities in the top 25 list have good mobility, not taking into account any additional shuttles students may have access to.

SEPTA Bus Fusco
People wait to get on a SEPTA bus in downtown Philadelphia, home to the University of Pennsylvania's campus. (Photo: Philadelphia Magazine)

It's worth noting that, as one might expect, the top colleges on the list are those based in major cities (Philadelphia, New York City, Boston) with large transit systems built around them. Many universities, of course, are in a more suburban environment with sprawling quads.

How much difference can a shuttle make? Without taking into account any shuttle information, Stanford University's student union building has a score of 51. If one were to take into account the information for its Marguerite Shuttle, available to the public free of cost, the building's score shoots up an amazing 10 points to a 61.

Stanford Marguerite Shuttle
The Stanford Marguerite Shuttle takes students and residents alike around the city free of charge, increasing overall ability to get around the campus and its surroundings.

So even if you're not in the middle of New York City, that isn't to say you can't provide newer mobility options to make sure everyone can get where they need to go. You can also make it easier to make sure students take advantage of the options they already have.