Air Quality

Published on December 14th, 2014 | by Cynthia Shahan


Annual Transit Savings = $9,569 In US (On Average)

December 14th, 2014 by  

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:

 City  Monthly  Annual
1 New York  $1,355 $16,263
2 San Francisco  $1,199 $14,390
3 Boston  $1,195 $14,345
4 Philadelphia  $1,112 $13,348
5 Chicago  $1,098 $13,177
6 Honolulu  $1,096 $13,151
7 Seattle  $1,096 $13,150
8 Los Angeles  $1,039 $12,467
9 Portland  $993 $11,914
10 San Diego  $991 $11,893
11 Minneapolis $980 $11,756
12 Denver $971 $11,648
13 Baltimore $970 $11,640
14 Washington, DC $953 $11,440
15 Pittsburgh $935  $11,224
16 Cleveland $924  $11,089
17 Miami $901  $10,814
18 Atlanta $896  $10,753
19 Las Vegas $881  $10,572
20 Dallas $878  $10,531

Average Estimated Monthly Savings

Monthly Transit Savings US

Average Estimated Annual Savings

Annual Transit Savings US


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.

Related Stories:

Video: The Best Mass Transit Ad Ever?

2.7 Billion+ Trips Taken On Public Transportation In 2nd Quarter

Zipcar Baltimore Car Share Members Drive Less, Give Up Cars, Use Mass Transit

5 Largest Public Transit Systems In US (Infographic)

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About the Author

is a Mother, an Organic Farmer, Licensed Acupuncturist, Anthropology Studies, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

  • 42apples

    This is highly misleading. It assumes that you don’t even own a car or insurance. That’s true for less than 10% of American households. I expect to live without a car, but there are a lot of limitations relying on transit (in fact, I go a lot more places a lot faster by bike than I would by bus). And the actual cost of transit is much higher considering that all public transit in the US is government subsidized.

  • mike

    As James mentioned. The problem is that these transit systems do not eliminate the need to a car, so I must own one anyway. I also assume that the savings are for ICE rather than EV.
    In my area a monthly transit pass costs $96 – for that much money, my EV gets me at least 4000 miles. I have to have a car anyway to get to the transit centers, so its down to fuel cost and the bus/train is substantially more expensive in real cost and time.

  • MarTams

    This is very skewed report and a big misleading article!

    I used to be an employee and tried using public transpo from my home to place of work. I have to walk and do a couple of transfers. It takes me 3 hrs each way. If i drove, it takes only 25 minutes door to door. There is free parking in my place of work. The extra savings of 5 hrs and 10 minutes per day if I drove direct earned me additional income of $54,000 per year on my business that i built. If i follow Elon Musk’s justification of the Tesla where a typical owner earns $300/hr, i would have saved $403,000/year by driving a Tesla compared to using public transpo. If I a am a bottom feeder earning minimum wage, i would have earned an additional $14,105.00

    So it depends who you are and where you are. The article is useless piece of garbage. Just my opinion.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You were absent the day your teacher explained “averages”?

  • JamesWimberley

    IN US suburbia, either/or is often the wrong metric. In Maryland for instance, the choice is drive all the way to Washington, or drive to the nearest metro station. This cuts driving and parking costs, but does not eliminate them. The lon-term solution to commuting costs is higher density. You know, like Manhattan, Paris, Rome, Venice and similar hell-holes.

    • Larmion

      Not per se. Suburbs, exurbs and rural towns can be served perfectly well by light rail or even true railways, as is common in Belgium and France for example.

      I live in a small-ish rural town (<20k inhabitants) some 30km removed from the large city where I work. Through a good rail connection and a bicycle, I can commute to work faster than I could by car and at much lower cost. Oh, and I can read some research articles or a newspaper during my commute, something I couldn't do in a car.

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