Save $9,330 a Year by Riding Transit

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Metro in DC average savings from riding transit instead of driving

Back in January, I wrote that the average transit rider in the US saved about $9,242 a year (or approximately $770 a month) by riding transit instead of driving. The figures have been updated and the savings have increased.

The average transit rider in the US now saves $9,330 a year riding transit.

Of course, savings are based on a lot of factors, and you could save more or less than the average. One such factor, as the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) clearly shows, is the city you live in and the costs of driving there. Below are, according to APTA, the 20 cities where you save the most by riding transit instead of driving.

It is also important to point out that these numbers are not for a person who gives up their car. Rather, the savings are only based on the costs of using, maintaining and insuring a car (plus the cost of riding transit). You can make more money if you sell your car altogether.

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If you want to calculate your own savings, visit www.publictransportation.org. Otherwise, here are the average savings from riding transit instead of driving for 20 major cities in the US.

Top Twenty Cities – Transit Savings Report

Rank City Monthly Savings Annual Savings
1 New York $1,159 $13,906
2 Boston $1,040 $12,481
3 San Francisco $1,026 $12,309
4 Chicago $955 $11,463
5 Seattle $946 $11,346
6 Philadelphia $934 $11,203
7 Honolulu $902 $10,824
8 Los Angeles $847 $10,163
9 San Diego $834 $10,009
10 Minneapolis $828 $9,938
11 Portland $811 $9,736
12 Denver $811 $9,727
13 Cleveland $808 $9,701
14 Baltimore $789 $9,465
15 Washington, DC $759 $9,107
16 Miami $756 $9,067
17 Dallas $736 $8,834
18 Las Vegas $726 $8,712
19 Atlanta $725 $8,694
20 Pittsburgh $685 $8,218

*Based on gasoline prices as reported by AAA on 6/16/10.

The methodology APTA used to come up with these numbers is as follows:

APTA calculates the average cost of taking public transit by determining the average monthly transit pass of local public transit agencies across the country. This information is based on the annual APTA fare collection survey and is weighted based on ridership (unlinked passenger trips). The assumption is that a person making a switch to public transportation would likely purchase an unlimited pass on the local transit agency, typically available on a monthly basis.

APTA then compares the average monthly transit fare to the average cost of driving. The cost of driving is calculated using the 2010 AAA average cost of driving formula. AAA cost of driving formula is based on variable costs and fixed costs. The variable costs include the cost of gas, maintenance and tires. The fixed costs include insurance, license registration, depreciation and finance charges. The comparison also uses the average mileage of a mid-size auto at 23.4 miles per gallon and the price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline as recorded by AAA on June 16 at $2.70 per gallon. The analysis also assumes that a person will drive an average of 15,000 miles per year. The savings assume a person in a two-person household lives with one less car.

In determining the cost of parking, APTA uses the data from the 2009 Colliers International Parking Rate Study for monthly unreserved parking rates for the United States.

There are numerous environmental benefits to riding transit as well. “Taking transit… is something we all can do in response to the BP oil disaster,” says Ann Mesnikoff, the Sierra Club’s Green Transportation Campaign Director. “Public transportation is key to ending our dependence on oil and reducing our global warming pollution.”

Image Credit: Dsade via flickr/CC license


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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