Using Transit Could Save A Typical American Urbanite $9,238 A Year

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The American Public Transportation Association’s most recent transit savings report (for February) is now out, giving us some insight into just how much cheaper it is to ride the bus/subway/light-rail than it is to drive.

Despite gas prices that are a fair bit lower (over the past few months) than they have been in a number of years, the new numbers show that using public transportation can be a real money saver. The average annual savings for public transit riders in February is $9,238 — which works out to an average of ~$770 in savings per month — according to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) February Transit Savings Report.

Image Credit: Tram via Flickr CC

This number is likely to continue rising as gas prices make their slow return to recent highs (I’d say give it a year or maybe two) — over the month of February, the average price of gas in the country rose from $2.00 to $2.30. Nothing “good” lasts forever, does it? Wonder how much longer until US gas prices look like those in Europe?

APTA provides a bit of information explaining these numbers:

These savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the cost of owning and driving a vehicle which includes the February 23, 2015 average national gas price ($2.30 per gallon- reported by AAA), and the national unreserved monthly parking rate numbers. APTA releases this monthly Transit Savings Report to examine how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car.

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.


There’s of course a lot of variance with regard to potential saved costs, depending on where you live mostly. That’s where the rankings and table below come in. They detail the transit savings associated with the purchase of a monthly pass in the top 20 cities (public transit ridership) compared to owning and driving a car (or an extra car, as it may be for many households). Local gas prices and local monthly unreserved parking rates are factored in as well. Of course, these are estimates based on averages — individual situations can vary a great deal.

 City  Monthly  Annual
1 New York  $1,323 $15,873
2 San Francisco  $1,190 $14,280
3 Boston  $1,167 $14,001
4 Philadelphia  $1,091 $13,095
5 Chicago  $1,075 $12,898
6 Seattle  $1,070 $12,838
7 Honolulu  $1,057 $12,684
8 Los Angeles  $1,043 $12,512
9 San Diego  $994 $11,925
10 Portland  $969 $11,628
11 Minneapolis $964 $11,568
12 Baltimore $948 $11,380
13 Denver $944 $11,323
14 Washington, DC $926 $11,115
15 Pittsburgh $908  $10,893
16 Cleveland $907  $10,888
17 Miami $883  $10,599
18 Atlanta $879  $10,546
19 Las Vegas $866  $10,397
20 Dallas $865  $10,382

Image Credit: Tram via Flickr CC

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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