9 Benefits of Public Transportation
Public transportation systems bring many benefits to individuals, communities, and the local economy, but all too often, they don’t get near the amount of attention that they should. While much of the media’s attention is focused on higher profile stories such as autonomous vehicles and the launch of the latest Tesla electric car model, public transportation and fixed route transit services continue to be much more efficient and beneficial systems of getting people from one place to another, which often gets overlooked in the news cycle’s desire for shiny new things.
As a counterbalance to that, here are 9 benefits that buses, light rail, trains, shuttles, and other forms of public transportation bring to the table.
It benefits communities financially:
For every dollar invested in public transportation, approximately $4 in economic returns are generated, and for every $1 billion in investments in the sector, 50,000 jobs are created and supported. According to APTA, an investment of $10 million in public transportation generates about $32 million in increased business sales, and residential property values for homes located near public transit with high frequency service “performed 42% better on average.” In fact, it has been stated that the hidden economic value of public transit could be up to $1.8 billion per year per city, which is a considerable amount of capital.
Public transportation reduces air pollution:
By moving people more efficiently, public transit produces significantly less air pollution per passenger mile than a standard car carrying a single driver. Buses emit 20% less carbon monoxide, 10% as much hydrocarbons, and 75% as much nitrogen oxides per passenger mile than an automobile with a single occupant.
Increased fuel efficiency:
Along with reducing air pollution, public transportation is also more fuel efficient per passenger mile, which contributes to an overall decrease in the amount of energy necessary for transportation. APTA states that public transportation in the US is responsible for saving 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline each year.
Reduced traffic congestion:
Public transportation can convey many more people in much less space than individual automobiles, which helps to keep traffic congestion lower, which in turn reduces air pollution from idling vehicles, and helps riders avoid the stress that comes from daily driving in highly congested areas.
Taking public transportation instead of owning a second vehicle can save (on average) more than $9,823 a year, and for those who ride instead of driving the primary vehicle, can save individuals a significant amount of money each month in avoided gas, maintenance, parking, and other expenses.
For those who don’t, or can’t, drive, public transportation allows them to get to work, to school, to the grocery store or doctor’s office, or just to visit friends, without having to engage a friend or relative to do the driving.
Frees up time:
Taking public transportation can free up a significant amount of time and attention, as someone else is doing the driving, which allows riders to spend their transit time reading, working, studying, or being entertained instead of having to watch the road. It can also reduce commute time, with one study claiming that Americans living in areas with public transportation save some 850 million hours of travel time each year.
Public transportation is safer:
Taking the bus, train, light rail, or other transit options is safer than driving a car, not only in terms of the safety of the vehicles themselves, which are maintained much more regularly than a personal car, but also in terms of the driving habits and training of the operators. Transit operators, and the ones that work for National Express Transit in particular, receive much more training than the average automobile driver (120 minimum hours of training) and also receive refresher training on a regular basis as well. Statistically, bus- and train-related accidents happen at a lesser rate, and with much lower passenger fatality rates than car travel does. In addition, most transit centers have higher levels of security monitoring and reduced crime rates than other areas.
Encourages healthier habits:
Public transportation is linked to healthier lifestyles, as people who use public transportation are said to get more than three times the amount of physical activity per day than those who don’t, just from walking to and from their transit stops and their final destination.
Public transportation contributes to both the economical and physical health of individuals, it brings financial benefits to communities, and it provides not only jobs in the industry itself, but is also a key component of a healthy business ecosystem by increasing mobility options for both job commuters and customers alike.
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