- Cities that make public transportation use a higher priority could reduce traffic fatalities by up to 40%, according to a study by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
- The analysis, co-authored by the Vision Zero Network, found cities with more transit use have fewer deaths, and that traveling by public transportation is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by car.
- "One of the most powerful traffic safety tools a city can employ to eliminate deaths and injuries due to road traffic crashes is its public transportation system," APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas told reporters on a conference call. "It takes just a modest increase in public transit use to result in a dramatic decrease in traffic fatalities."
The recent rise in traffic fatalities has been well-documented, with the National Safety Council (NSC) saying earlier this month the United States is on track for 40,000 deaths this year. Given that figure is coupled with only a slight rise in the amount of vehicle miles traveled, New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) commissioner Polly Trottenberg called it an "unfortunate trend" on the conference call. That rise in traffic fatalities goes hand-in-hand with the rise in pedestrian deaths, which are at a 25-year high.
But Vision Zero, an initiative that seeks to end traffic fatalities, is looking to change that. The likes of Detroit and Los Angeles have caught on by cutting travel lanes and reducing speed limits to encourage more multimodal trips and a move away from cars. Meanwhile, the National Complete Streets Coalition and Smart Growth America called for better street design and said people should not “accept these deaths as part of the background of our daily lives.”
With this data showing that higher transit use is linked to fewer traffic fatalities, APTA and its partners repeated their calls for more investment in public transportation, with the association saying a lack of investment will cost the U.S. economy $180 billion.
And while surveys show the majority of Americans want more federal funding for transit, the Trump administration has come under pressure for not releasing grants from the Federal Transit Administration to invest in infrastructure. “For too long, we have undervalued the significant safety benefits of robust public transit networks, so we look forward to stepping up cooperation to grow public transit and safety together,” Leah Shahum, founder and director of the Vision Zero Network, said on the conference call.