US Public Transit Riders Save $9,200 a Year Compared to Drivers


Photo via Zimbio

It looks like public transportation is a better investment than we thought--the average American who takes public transit saves a staggering $9,240 a year. Which is, of course, a handsome chunk of change. The finding comes from a recent study by the American Public Transportation Association, which compiled the average costs of parking, gas, and tolls each year. They've come up with a comprehensive savings report that shows how much a rider saves in the 20 top cities for public transit--find out how much you're saving in your city.The study found that the bus riders, train-takers, and subway hoppers among us save an average of $770 a month, when compared to commuting by car. It pits the cost of monthly subway fare against the cost of buying gas to commute--and it's no wonder that popularity of public transit is growing in the US. And as Cleantechnica notes, the number could be even higher if you count hours of productivity--you can get work done on the train, not so much in your car.

The cost of gas is the most variable factor, and this year, it's around a full dollar higher than last: $2.75. That was the national gas average on January 11th, and it provides the foundation for the study.

Monthly parking rates and tolls were also taken into consideration. According to the report's abstract:

The national average for a monthly unreserved parking space in a downtown business district is $154.23, according to the 2009 Colliers International Parking Rate Study. Over the course of a year, parking costs for a vehicle can amount to an average of $1,850.
Not exactly pocket change.

The Top 20 Public Transit Cities in the US

And here are the savings rates for the top 20 mass transit cities in the US:

Top Twenty Cities - Transit Savings Report
City - Monthly Savings - Annual Savings

1 New York $ 1,147 $13,765
2 Boston $ 1,030 $12,362
3 San Francisco $ 1,013 $12,156
4 Chicago $ 946 $11,357
5 Seattle $ 932 $11,185
6 Philadelphia $ 927 $11,121
7 Honolulu $ 887 $10,639
8 Los Angeles $ 838 $10,052
9 San Diego $ 824 $9,894
10 Minneapolis $ 824 $9,884
11 Cleveland $ 803 $9,639
12 Portland $ 798 $9,581
13 Denver $ 795 $9,539
14 Baltimore $ 782 $9,383
15 Miami $ 752 $9,022
16 Washington, DC $751 $9,015
17 Dallas $730 $8,756
18 Atlanta $722 $8,658
19 Las Vegas $716 $8,591
20 Pittsburgh $680 $8,162

Living in Brooklyn, I'm evidently saving $13K. Sure doesn't feel like it--but I can only imagine how strapped I'd be if I had to constantly refill a gas tank.

For an closer look at the study's methodology, see the APTA website.

More on Public Transportation in the US
U.S. Public Transit Ridership in 2008: Highest Level in 52 years
Ease Your Public Transit Riding with Google Maps

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