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The Top 10 Benefits of Public Transportation

San Diego streetcar

Thursday, April 9 has been designated National Stand Up For Transportation Day. On this day, Americans will meet in communities across the country and online to press Congress to invest in long term transportation funding, especially public transit.

Organizations like Voice for Public Transit will work to channel the public's sense of urgency that public transit is a national priority and that Congress must pass a long-term and comprehensive transportation bill in 2015.

What's more, since both Democratic and Republican leaders have called for the abolishment of the Interstate Highway System's funding apparatus, there would be money in the federal budget to dramatically increase and fast track urban transit projects across the country.

Local and regional rail networks, some or most of which could be public-private partnerships, would connect with a nationwide high-speed rail system.

Furthermore, much of the public transportation in America could be built in concert with Transit Oriented Developments (TOD's), which would defray future operating costs through the ownership of the valuable real estate surrounding transit stations.

Top-10 Benefits of Public Transportation

1. Economic Benefits to the Community

For every ten million dollars of transit investment made, business sales increase by thirty million dollars.

During the 2006 to 2011 period, residential property was an average of 42% more valuable if located near high-frequency transit service, which means cities reap greater tax revenues.

Furthermore, transit agencies and organizations employ many people and create many times more private-sector jobs.

2. Health Benefits to the Community

Transit users must walk to and from transit stations, so they walk much more than the average, driving commuter.

A study done by the city of Copenhagen linked a healthier lifestyle with a lower mortality rate, a happier disposition, and more productivity at work.

3. Transit Reduces Road Congestion

Currently in America, public transit use results in a reduction of 865,000,000 hours of travel time, a figure which would be many times higher if cities in the U.S.A.

had the high quality transit service and lower dependence on cars that many European urban centers have.

4. Transit Lessens Gas Use and Reduces Pollution

Currently in America, public transit use results in a reduction of 450,000,000 gallons of gas being burned which, as in the case of road congestion in number 3 above, would be substantially higher if European urban planning principles were applied, including a gas tax reflective of the true cost of automobile use to society.

5. Millenials Prefer Transit Lifestyle over Sprawl

Millenials prefer walkable communities over sprawl, seeking to live around robust transit, shops, restaurants, libraries, parks, and a mix of housing styles such as apartments and houses.

During the first ten years of the new millennium, transit ridership increased 40% among 16-34 year olds.

In the past five years, 77% of transit funding ballot initiatives were approved by voters across the country, demonstrating the public's high level of support for public transportation.

6. Freedom and Mobility Amplified by Public Transit

The availability of public transit opens up personal mobility to everyone, giving each person the freedom to go virtually anywhere.

Many people are unable to drive, and a majority of drivers would appreciate the ability to walk, cycle, or take public transit instead, at least sometimes.

Having to hop in a car to drive miles to get a coffee and newspaper is only an option if you drive.

Millions of non-drivers, such as children, are stuck in automobile dominated suburban locales where they must depend on others for rides. 

7. Household Expenses Reduced by Using Public Transit

Each family that gets rid of one car and relies on public transit saves over $10,000 per year.

8. Social Connections Increase When Driving is Decreased

It has been said by Robert Putnam, the author of Bowling Alone, that for every 10 minutes of additional travel time by car, social connections are reduced by 10%.

Often, cars are used to allow people to live in larger houses that are far from their places of work, in areas where high quality public transit is not available.

9. Commuters More Productive on Public Transit than Cars

When driving an automobile, one cannot sleep, read, write, relax, or do anything that transit takers are able to do.

10. Public Transit is a Safe and Equitable Transportation Mode

When robust transit options exist, fewer cars are driven, reducing their harmful effects on society, which include the loss of 30,000 people and the maiming of many more every year in road crashes.

Cars degrade our environment and contribute to global warming, and they devour gigantic amounts of land for driving and storing them.

They are an enormous burden to the working poor, and have devastated urban centers and caused housing to become unaffordable.

Call to Action in Washington, D.C.

Transit organizations and advocates across America are circulating a national petition to congress to pass a long-term and comprehensive transportation bill in 2015.

Letters are being sent to newspapers throughout the nation, as well as to elected members of Congress, pressing them to listen what a majority of their constituents want: the ability to make choices in transportation, that is, to not be forced to drive because there are no viable public transit options.

Public transit represents an opportunity for America to prosper through the development of attractive, walkable communities around transit stations.

Public transportation must be supported by the government in order to strengthen the long-term health of the economy, lessen inequality resulting from the burden of car ownership by the working poor, improve the environment, reduce the death and injury count resulting from cars, and many other reasons.

To ignore the responsibility to its people and the nation's prosperity by not passing a comprehensive, long-term transportation bill in 2015, Congress would be missing a golden opportunity to make American cities smarter and better places to live, and to create the foundation of a long-lasting, economic engine for America.