Clean Transport train-1553734-225x300

Published on March 23rd, 2016 | by Kyle Park Points

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Saving Money With Public Transportation: Top 20 US Cities

March 23rd, 2016 by  

Originally published on Bikocity.

FreeImages.com/vierdrie-46406 Saving

FreeImages.com/vierdrie-46406

The American Public Transit Association (APTA) recently released its February Savings Report. The association releases a monthly savings report in order to analyze how much money the average two-person household can save by taking public transportation and using one less automobile. The average commuter is looking at a savings of more than $754 a month for the frugal individual.

Based on the cost of commuting via public transportation versus the cost of owning, maintaining and driving a vehicle, the association reports an annual savings of $9,052 for commuters who chose to use public transportation instead of private.

The savings calculations include the national average gas price as of February 17, 2016 ($1.71 per gallon according to AAA) and the unreserved monthly parking rate ($166.26 per month according to the 2012 Colliers International Parking Rate Study). The study is the most recent data available according to the APTA. This equates to an annual bill of $1,995.

Of the top 20 cities with the highest public transit ridership, these are ranked by the APTA according to the potential savings there based upon the purchase cost of a monthly public transit pass.

City Monthly Annual
1 New York $1,160 $13,926
2 San Francisco $1,029 $12,351
3 Boston $1,004 $12,046
4 Philadelphia $926 $11,115
5 Seattle $911 $10,930
6 Chicago $895 $10,736
7 Honolulu $891 $10,697
8 Los Angeles $875 $10,499
9 San Diego $828 $9,938
10 Portland $803 $9,635
11 Minneapolis $794 $9,529
12 Baltimore $779 $9,348
13 Denver $773 $9,278
14 Washington, DC $762 $9,148
15 Pittsburgh $744 $8,926
16 Cleveland $733 $8,797
17 Miami $716 $8,587
18 Atlanta $708 $8,494
19 Las Vegas $701 $8,417
20 Dallas $697 $8,362

The APTA calculates the price of public transit by determining the average price for a monthly pass for transit agencies across the country. The price of commuting privately is calculated using the AAA 2015 average cost of driving formula and data from the 2012 Colliers International Parking Rate Study. Based on variable (the cost of gas, maintenance and tires) and fixed (insurance, license registration, depreciation and finance charges) costs, the formula uses the average gas mileage at 23.1 miles per gallon and the price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline as recorded by AAA in February. Assuming that a person will drive an average of 15,000 miles per year and that a person in a two-person household lives with one less car, the costs are then compared.

FreeImages.com/mandinga-37259 saving

FreeImages.com/mandinga-37259

You too can calculate your individual savings by going to publictransportation.org.

If you live in one of these 20 metropolitan areas, you owe it to yourself to seriously consider the benefits of public transportation. The perks are not only financial but if what they say is true, and ‘money talks,’ this is the speech you need to hear.

Reprinted with permission.


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About the Author

is a working father in New York City by way of Sarasota, Florida. He is a public transportation enthusiast, clean air advocate, lifetime recycler and frequent panderer. He also reluctantly tended to his family's compost heap for many formative years. He hopes to one day leave his daughter with a safer, healthier environment than when she was born; which shouldn't be hard since she was born in Queens, New York.



  • Is the picture of the Dutch train to make us all jealous of what we don’t have available here in much of America?

  • Folatt

    I didn’t know U.S. train stations look so much like the ones in Twente.

  • Freddy D

    The potential is so huge and underutilized – mass transit in North America. The key to ridership critical mass is time, IMHO. If one can save time taking transit then game on. If a car is faster, then people take that. How to make transit faster? High-capacity, high-speed systems that cover the main corridors. Leave the last couple miles to bikes, buses, uber and private cars. Nothing more complicated than that. Half a century ago, the SF Bay Area said lets rearchitect a railroad from the ground up. 80mph, grade separated, fast acceleration because it’s fully automated (in the 1960s!) and the cars weigh 1/3 of traditional railroads. Ridership is through the roof moving people at $0.20 per passenger mile. NYC rail coverage may not be as fast, but coverage is extensive and it works, particularly in tandem with bike-share now.

    Today, what would an LA commute be like with a good network of 100mph trains? What would Boston be like with coverage of the whole metro with 70mph trains? Houston, Dallas, Miami, Raleigh-Durham, Seattle, name your big metro with sad transit – “light rail” running down the middle of the street and a bunch of buses stuck at lights.

    “It’ll never work”
    “The city wasn’t built for it”
    “People here don’t like transit”.
    “It’s expensive”.
    People are sick of being stuck in traffic, people don’t like transit because the systems are terrible (except some above), and relative to one week of military budget or cars and freeways, this stuff is pocket change. Just sayin!

    • crevasse

      Agree. If everyone was forced to live in a place like NYC for a while to experience mass transit, living with less space, etc, they would probably vote far differently when they went back to their huge yards, gas guzzlers and delays due to both cherished anachronisms.

      I lived in the city for 10 years. Definitely changed my perspective. Forever.

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