Benefits of Using Public Transportation
Taken from the American Public Transportation Administration website www.apta.com
In the last six years alone, public transportation use has risen 22% -- faster than vehicle miles traveled on our roadways and airline passenger miles logged over the same period. In 2001, Americans used public transportation 9.5 billion times -- the highest ridership level in 40 years.
Communities across the country are rehabilitating and expanding public transportation systems and constructing new ones. Currently:
- 556 local public transportation operators provide services in 319 urbanized areas with a population of over 50,000.
- 1,260 organizations provide public transportation in rural areas.
- 3,660 organizations provide services to the aging population and disabled individuals.
Public transportation’s broad reach extends to all of America’s communities, large and small, and all of Americans’ diverse lifestyles, providing freedom and mobility for citizens across the country. It also supports the country’s critical national goals and policies, including helping to conserve energy resources, thereby decreasing the dependence on foreign oil.
The rebirth of public transportation is a critically important part of America’s future, providing more capacity, creating more choices and helping address the needs of a growing and changing population.
Safety and Public Transportation:
Compared to road systems, transit systems are significantly safer. Trips with similar destinations result in 200,000 fewer deaths, injuries and accidents when made by public transit than by car, adding up to between $2 billion and $5 billion per year in safety benefits. The National Safety Council estimates that riding the bus is over 170 times safer than automobile travel.
Emissions from road vehicles are the largest contributors to smog. Over 200 million passenger cars and light trucks log almost 2 trillion miles on American roads every year. These vehicles account for about 50% of air pollution nationwide— even higher in polluted cities.
- Public transportation reduces carbon monoxide (CO) emissions by nearly 745,000 tons annually. This equals nearly 75% of the CO emissions by all U.S. chemical manufacturers.
- Public transportation reduces emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which contributes to global warming, by more than 7.4 million tons a year.
- For every passenger mile traveled, public transportation produces only a fraction of the harmful pollution of automobile traffic: only 5% as much carbon monoxide, less than 8% as many volatile organic compounds and nearly half as much carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
- Americans use more energy for transportation than for any other activity. Nearly 43% of America’s energy resources are used in transportation, compared to industrial use (39%), residential use (11%) and commercial use (7%). Any serious effort to address energy conservation must focus largely on transportation.
- For every passenger mile traveled, public transportation is twice as fuel efficient as private automobiles.
- Public transportation already saves more than 855 million gallons of gasoline or 45 million barrels of oil a year. The number is equivalent to the energy used to heat, cool and operate one-fourth of all American homes annually, or half the energy used to manufacture all computers and electronic equipment in America annually.
- Providing Services to promote independence
- Of current transit riders, over 20% would not have made the trip without transit, and nearly 70% do not have access to cars at the time their trip is made. One-third have yearly household incomes below $15,000 -- well below $17,600, the poverty level for a family of four in 2000.
- For the poorest households, transportation costs can exceed 35% of income.
- Nearly 94% of public assistance recipients do not own cars and rely on public transportation.
- The need for increased access and mobility also ties into the emerging lifestyle needs of children and young adults. As their activities become more extensive and widespread, public transportation plays an increasingly important role in linking young Americans to the larger community.
- By 2020, 40% of the U.S. population will be older adults; many will be unable to drive. In fact, one-fourth of today’s 75+ age group does not drive. Meeting the transportation needs of seniors is a major community objective as well as a national goal. Public transportation and related travel options represent a lifeline for older adults, linking them with family, friends and a changing society.
- Nearly 85% of today’s public transportation vehicles are accessible to people with disabilities. However, to ensure that disabled persons remain actively involved in their communities, maintain productive roles in the economy, and have access to the full range of facilities and services needed to lead enjoyable and productive lives, the reach of public transportation to this population needs to be broadened.