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Clean Transport transit benefits health saves life

Published on August 19th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


Transit Benefits Your Health and Saves Your Life

August 19th, 2010 by  

transit benefits health saves life


I’ve reported on Cleantechnica before about the great financial savings of using mass transit, and the latest analysis out by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shows that the average American transit rider saves $9,381 a year by leaving their car at home. But, something I have not written about much on here are the health benefits of riding transit.

There are big advantages to riding transit when it comes to our health. I notice this without any studies telling me so, but it is always nice to see some information that backs up our intuitions or experiential knowledge. Luckily, a new study out by APTA does just that.

The report is actually a survey of current research on this matter. The general finding is that “people who live in communities with high-quality public transportation drive less, exercise more, live longer, and are generally healthier than residents of communities that lack quality public transit.”

The study, Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits [PDF], was conducted for APTA by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute and it aggregates the findings of several recent academic studies.

Due to less driving, people in transit-oriented “smart growth” communities have fewer fatal automobile accidents, have less health-damaging pollution, and get much-needed regular physical activity more than people in other communities.

“Public transportation enhances the overall quality of life of an individual and a community,” said APTA president William Millar. “Use of public transit simply means that you walk more which increases fitness levels and leads to healthier citizens. More importantly, increasing use of public transit may be the most effective traffic safety counter measure a community can employ.”

Living in a transit-oriented community lessens an individual’s risk in 5 of the 10 leading causes of reduced lifespan, causes which have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The 10 U.S. counties with the “smartest,” most transit-oriented development patterns have approximately 1/4 the traffic fatalities of te communities with the most sprawling patterns of development. Think your kids are safer in the suburbs? Think again.

Photo Credit: Atomic Taco via flickr 
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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media:, .

  • Uncle B

    On the Buses! Meet new people? Save money? Reduce stress? Slow life’s pace down a notch? Keep your capital for investing in your, self-serving, projects? Run from escalating gasoline costs? Socialize even if marginal differences? Unhook from the rubber-wheeled tragedy of our times! Buy that new house! Get some fresh air at the bus stop! Talk to that stranger their! Stop paying off the oil barons! Stop paying for model changes you don’t need! Don’t get hooked by the insurance brokers! Let planned obsolesce be a thing you do not invest in!

  • Court S.

    Great article! I’ve taken transit around for the last five years and tell people all the time the benefits of living in a transit-accessible neighborhood and taking transit. Sometimes I wear a pedometer, and I get an extra few miles of walking spread throughout the day. And not to mention lowered stress.

    And to answer Jordan, true, you are in an enclosed space, but so are most people at work, school, restaurants, movie theaters, etc. What transit does have is constant influx of air blowing in when the doors open, which help keeps air circulating (unlike my office :) I haven’t seen a significant increase in colds since taking transit; working in a restaurant caused many more issues.

  • Jordan D.

    The long term benefits of riding a bus such as lowered emissions and having to walk to the bus stop are great.

    The only bad part is that youre sitting in a small enclosed area with 30 people coughing, sneezing, and sharing the same air.

    If there’s a bug going around, your chances of catching it are significantly increased.

    So is it really good for your health…today?

    • Zachary Shahan

      i think it is, for sure.

  • J

    Sounds great !

    Riding a bicycle will save even 64% more money.

    But good luck trying to pick some one up from the airport on your bicycle or waiting at a bus stop on a hot day with a pint of ice cream.

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