Clean Transport Train Cabin

Published on February 8th, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown


Public Transportation Saved 865 Million Hours Of Delay On US Roads In 2011

February 8th, 2013 by  

According to the Texas Transportation Institute, public transit reduced road delays by 865 million hours in 2011, and avoided the consumption of 450 million gallons of fuel.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

“This report demonstrates how important public transportation is, not only as one of the solutions to reducing traffic congestion, but also in reducing fuel use and travel delays,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Mayors know that a city’s competitive position is enhanced by reducing congestion and public transportation is a key tool in minimizing congestion.”

Public transportation by bus has the potential to save fuel (if enough people use it), partially because the total amount of weight that has to be transported per person is significantly less than that of personal cars.

For example: A sedan would normally weight about 3,000 pounds, and one person driving the sedan would entail a transportation weight per person of 3,150 pounds, if the person weighs 150 pounds. If eighty-four 150-pound people drove cars instead of taking a bus, that would amount to a gross vehicle weight of 264,600 pounds.

A 84 passenger bus that weighs just 22,000 pounds can carry all 84 of these people. The combined weight of the people is 12,600 pounds plus the 22,000 pounds of the bus is 34,600 pounds, which is 230,000 pounds less than the weight of the cars mentioned above.

Of course, there are similar space and time savings. This is why public transportation is so fuel and cost efficient.

The use of public transportation annually saves Americans 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline, APTA added. As public transportation saves the population money, it also frees up income for the payment of bills, or even an improved standard of living. Also, for every $1 billion invested in public transportation, 36,000 jobs are created and supported.

Source: APTA

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • msantos1116

    You are comparing a vehicle with single occupancy with a fully occupied bus. In reality, the average occupancy of a vehicle is over 1.0 and the average occupancy of a bus is well under 84 passengers.

    The comparison is completely dishonest. If you’re going to make this comparison, you need to a little more research to be a little more realistic and FAIR. I don’t think you can be taken seriously if you are making these comparisons.

    Further, those 84 hypothetical environment killing jerks driving the single occupancy vehicles probably do not have the same origins and destinations along the same bus route. Otherwise, they would be on the bus.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I suspect your criticism is “dishonest”. You need to take a look at how the Texas Transportation Institute calculated their findings. I suspect you’ll find they used typical passengers per mile data.

      Then, Nicholas used a single occupant car vs. a fully loaded bus in his example. The example holds. It may not be typical ridership but it is a valid example.

      A more accurate example could be made using bus occupancy such as 10.75 (2001) and vehicle occupancy of 1.7 (2010). (Just grabbed some quick numbers.)

      If you’d care to dig up some good recent data and redo Nicholas’s example you can post it here.

  • dynamo.joe

    To me, wide spread adoption of mass transit requires that mass transit be as convienient as personal transportation. By that I basically mean that I should not have to plan my day around a bus schedule. Where I live I think the buses are on half hour schedule during peak times and hourly on off peak hours. So to use public transportation I DO have to plan my day around the bus schedule.
    Here is my question, do you know of any good data that show the relationship between bus frequency and ridership levels? My gut says ridership will increase dramatically when the bus arrives every 10mins or less and car use would be rare (nearly non-existent) if it was as low as 5-6 mins.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Add comfortable to the mix.

      In Bangkok they run two levels of public buses. The regular buses are pretty much what one sees in cities everywhere.

      The more comfortable buses, which cost a bit more, have fewer seats, more comfortable seats, AC and accept passengers only when there are empty seats. No standing.

      That additional level of comfort gets people in suits on the buses.

      What also really seems to help public transportation is the ability to move long distances within cities very rapidly.

      Bangkok has both a subway and an elevated light rail system. The trains are very frequent. And they zip you past the clogged streets very rapidly.

    • i don’t know of such studies/data, but am sure it’s out there.

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