How do I find a hotel near good transit?

Map_of_hotels_near_washington_dc_metroHere's news you can use, or at least news I can use as an absurdly frequent flyer.  

All of the standard travel shopping sites make it very hard to assess the transit options from a hotel's location.  At most they have distances and sometimes car travel times.  So I often spend too long doing research, and pay too much for a hotel close to my destination when I might easily have stayed further away more cheaply if I knew good transit was there.

This, therefore, is a really good tool.  In the case of Washington DC, it helps you see all the hotels that are close (objectively close, not hotel-marketing-close) to a subway station.  It's the work of Jeff Howard, and he's also done one for Atlanta's MARTA subway.

You can get hints of similar output from Google, very crudely, by pointing Google Maps at a city and then specifying, say, "hotels near a DC Metro station," but Google is easily confused by excessively clear requests, and to Google, "near" means car-near, not transit-near.  Someday, maybe Google will understand "hotel within 400m of a frequent transit stop," or even "hotel within 30 min frequent transit travel time from ___".  But that's clearly a way off, and Google often seems more interested in interpreting vague search requests than replying to clearly stated ones.

In any case, even a competent search engine wouldn't produce Jeff Howard's very useful feedback about hotels.  Click on a station and there's a writeup about each station area, including a map showing the hotel's exact relationship to the station, and links to the hotels themselves, including a reservation widget.  Nice work, Jeff! and the Lure of the Single “Score”

[Note: This post is from 2010 and has not been updated to reflect more recent developments, including the acquisition of WalkScore by Redfin.]

The Conservative Planner [blog site no longer active] has a thoughtful attack on‘s methodology for calculating a simple “walkability score” for any neighborhood in America.  He’s found several examples where WalkScore has given a high score to a place that’s clearly hostile to pedestrians when viewed on the ground.  Continue Reading →

Rail Rapid Transit Maps, to Scale


Neil Freeman recently posted a great collection of rail rapid transit maps, all drawn to scale, and all at the same scale.  The image at right, of course, is New York City,

He calls them subway maps, but of course that term suggests that the service is all underground, which few “subway” systems are.  What matters is that they’re rapid transit.  In this case, they’re specifically rail rapid transit, which is why Staten Island’s rail line in the lower left appears disconnected from the rest.  In reality, it’s just connected by rapid transit of a different mode: the Staten Island Ferry.

(By “rapid transit” this blog always means transit services that run frequently all day in an exclusive right of way with widely spaced stations — linking centers to each other, for example, rather than providing coverage to every point on the line as local-stop services do.)

Continue Reading →