Suburbs can be 'transit friendly' too

The top suburban transit communities in metropolitan Chicago.

Too often suburban communities get pigeonholed as car-dependent places lined with strip malls and bloated parking lots. But urban centers aren't the only places to find decent transit options.

With 250 suburban communities in the Chicago region, public transit is a way to set one suburban community apart from another and compete for residents.

DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development set out to find which Chicago suburbs were the most competitive when it comes to transit.

The study whittled the list of suburbs down to 25 finalists. The suburbs had to meet three criteria: commuter rail service available seven days a week; at least 150 people must walk or bike to the train daily; and a walk score of at least 65.

Those finalists were then ranked on four categories: quality of stations and platforms; quality of the grounds surrounding the stations and platforms; quality of amenities near the stations; and connectivity of public transit. The study considered 47 variables within the four categories.

For those familiar Chicago's suburban landscape, here are the metro region's top 10 transit-friendly suburbs.

  1. LaGrange
  2. Wilmette
  3. Arlington Heights
  4. Glenview
  5. Elmhurst
  6. Wheaton
  7. Downers Grove
  8. Naperville
  9. Des Plaines
  10. Mt. Prospect

The efforts of these communities and others have helped Chicago build one of the premier metropolitan transit systems in the U.S., according to the report:

A greater share of workers in downtown Chicago arrive at their jobs using public transportation as compared to those in the central business districts of any other city in the country, except New York. The region’s commuter rail system stretches almost 500 miles and is commonly regarded as one of the most comprehensive and best performing systems in North America.

Maybe these communities can help encourage other communities break the suburban stereotype.

Read the full report here.

Photo: Flickr/Tristan Garrett

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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