How we move about — to work, to play, for health needs, etc. — contributes to economic well-being as well as personal health (or lack thereof). People in record numbers are now choosing public transit services. Health as a way of life — instead of something we work on once in a while — is important. This is one thing probably driving the growth, and is combined with the more efficient and cost-conservative nature of public transit, and the growing multi-modal choices available in cities across the US. (Check out the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “NewPublicHealth” website for more on how public transportation coincides with healthier behaviors.)
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has just released its December Transit Savings Report, which shows that “individuals who ride public transportation instead of driving can also save, on average, more than $797 per month. This month the average annual savings for public transit riders is $9,569.”
Another thing public transit saves is the stress of being stuck in traffic, lines of cars fighting for a parking spot at the mall parking lot (that is moving slow as molasses and even thicker to navigate through).
The trend of increasing ridership is stable and growing. As US public transportation improves, it is outpacing urban vehicle miles traveled (VMT) at times. Record ridership has increased on the expanded and new lines opened in the past five years, proving that the investments are paying off. With better options, people will choose public transportation.
“Access to public transportation matters,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy, “Community leaders know that public transportation investment drives community growth and economic revitalization.”
Here’s a table from the APTA December Transit Savings Report, followed by two charts of the findings that we created here at CleanTechnica:
Average Estimated Monthly Savings
Average Estimated Annual Savings
Here’s more from APTA on the assumptions used:
The national average for a monthly unreserved parking space in a downtown business district is $166.26, according to the 2012 Colliers International Parking Rate study, which is the most recent report available. Over the course of a year, parking costs for a vehicle can amount to an average of $1,995.
The top 20 cities with the highest public transit ridership are ranked in order of their transit savings based on the purchase of a monthly public transit pass. The savings also factor in local gas prices for November 24, 2014 and the local monthly unreserved parking rate.
Transit Savings Report continually shows that living with one less car in a two-person household can save you a ton of money, rewarding you for being practical and wise financially. At the same time, this choice mitigates air pollution and global warming. There are even more savings if both commuted by transit and let go of the automobile, of course. Car-sharing services are also available in many cities now, giving the ability to cut car ownership without losing mobility. Along with regular use of public transit, one can supplement an automobile with programs such as DriveNow, Zipcar, Car2Go, Autolib for short periods.
The Inspired Economist‘s feature on smart cities and TEDCity2.0, entitled “Why buses represent democracy in action,” makes this issue even more relevant, discussing our need to change the transportation dynamic to build better cities.
“And while we may be tempted to look down our noses at those who rely on mass transit or their own muscles to get to work or to the market, those types of transportation aren’t just a plebeian necessity that should be outgrown as soon as incomes rise, but rather are a key component to the smart cities of the future, and in fact are representative of democracy in action, according to Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia.”
As in Columbia, so it is in Europe, where even the wealthy take the metro. Check out Zurich, Switzerland, a beautiful city that invites you to come and enjoy the world in person, rather than trying to navigate an unknown place in a plastic, metal, and glass bubble.
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