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Clean Transport transit savings November 2011

Published on December 12th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

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$10,000/Year — Available to You

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December 12th, 2011 by Zachary Shahan
 
OK, it would only be about $10,000 ($9,797) a year if you are an average American living in a city or county with local transit available and are not yet using transit. It could be less, or more, depending on your unique situation. So,.. take a look at your expenditures and options and see what you would actually save.

Where am I getting the number above? It’s from the American Public Transportation Association’s latest Transit Savings Report. The average monthly savings for switching to transit would have been $816 in November, when the report was created. The assumptions were:

  • average national gas price = $3.38 per gallon (as reported by AAA), about 50 cents higher than at this time last year;
  • national average for monthly, unreserved parking space in a downtown business district = $155.22… or $1,863 per yer (according to 2011 Colliers International Parking Rate Study)
  • average mileage of a mid-size auto = 23.4 miles per gallon
  • average miles driven per year = 15,000
  • average monthly transit pass of local public transit agencies across the country not reported

APTA also delves into the average savings for 20 of the country’s largest cities (table below). And, I’ll just note that while these savings are pretty tremendous, you can save even more by choosing to bicycle for your transportation purposes. And, one more thing, walking more (which you generally do when you use transit) and bicycling can imrpove your health significantly, further saving you money (and improving your quality of life in most cases). Something to think about. Anyway, here’s the city-by-city data (CLICK TO ENLARGE IT):

Note: I’ve been car-free for about 7 and a half years now and lovin’ it!

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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



  • Roger Lauricella

    Zach: The presumption is that yes you can save by using mass transit but it would only work if mass transit was convenient and available from your home to your work. For the most part at least in Los Angeles county where I live, the mass transit is not convenient for a majority of workers whose homes are divergent from their work. A different dynamic for places like NYC, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago with long standing transit systems built years ago around the placement of homes and jobs from one to another. And if I remember correctly you before you are living in England, again another location with a dynamic built years ago for mass transit from ones home to ones job. Now if the billions of dollars proposed for High speed rail in California were spent on local mass transit expansion maybe the presumptions in the article could be applied to 1000s more in LA county alone, but then again you love High speed rail so I would guess you would not approve of that.

    • Anonymous

      Two separate issues.

      California is either going to have to widen its freeways and enlarge its airports or create another way to move people up and down the state as population grows. High speed rail is cheaper than highway/airport expansion. And it cuts down on CO2 emissions.

      We’re going to have to spend money one way or another for longer distance travel.

      Public transportation needs to be improved. Our highways are packed and increasing lanes in the most crowded areas would be very difficult.

      Having spent a bit of time in Bangkok I wonder why LA doesn’t look at an overhead light rail system like the SkyTrain. Stick the rails up over existing freeways and no more real estate is needed. Design a system that allows people to travel to different parts of the area without numerous train changes.

      When you’re stuck in traffic in BKK and see the SkyTrain zipping past above you it gets very tempting to leave the car at home. It can free another hour or three in your day to do something more fun than bumper to bumper creeping.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Roger,

      Unfort., I’ve never spent time in LA. However, I’m from South Florida, which has a very similar urban design (or lack of design). And, beyond that, I’ve lived many places where people told me it was too difficult to ride transit (note: never England). I have found in every single situation that while that is sometimes true, with just a bit of planning and utilitarian exercise (something the majority of Americans need), transit is very viable and a good choice. That said, yes, if you decide to live on the opposite side of a multi-million-person metro area, you’re going to have problems.. but you’re going to have probelms driving too, and you should really consider a more logical, healthy, and enjoyable living situation. (Not implying that you’ve done this, but using “you” as “a person”)

      The bottom line: in most locations, people have told me it’s too difficult/inconvenient to use transit, but after trying it out i found the opposite were true. I think that much of the time people don’t even give it a try before claiming it doesn’t work. For me, I hardly remember having any struggles, and yes, i probably have saved abuot $70,000 since ditching the car, & am happy about that :D

      HSR and good transit have to go hand in hand. It is extremely easy to get around in a big city that has both. By definition, a city is a place where a lot of people live in a relatively small area — getting around in large
      individual vehicles is never going to be efficient (energy efficient or
      financially efficient).

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