Updated July 3, 2013

Infographic: Public Transportation Statistics

Public Transportation: Communities of Health and Prosperity
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As I was riding the D.C. Metro a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of the metro tickets I keep as mementos of places I’ve traveled: San Francisco’s BART, Atlanta’s MARTA, and New York City’s subway system. That got me thinking about stories of families who’ve saved a bundle by becoming one-car (or no-car) households.

I’m sure living in one of these cities with metro systems would make this conversion an easy one. However, I wonder how doable it would be for the rest of us.

According to a study by AAA, the cost of owning and operating a car for one year is about $8,946, on average. Over a few years, that’s quite a chunk of change. Over the course of five years, that’s nearly $45,000. Additionally, according to RITA Bureau of Transportation’s statistics on average fuel efficiency and distance traveled to work (10 miles each way), the average daily work commute costs about $2.25 each way in a car compared to $1.02 for the average public transit fare—nearly half price.

The cost savings alone could justify using public transit, not to mention the health benefits. APTA claims public transportation offers cleaner air with 95% less carbon monoxide and nearly 50% less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide per passenger mile than a private vehicle does.

Take a look at some additional statistics from the FTA.

  • Average time most Americans spend walking each day: 6 minutes
  • Average time most transit users spend walking each day: 19 minutes
  • Light rail users are 80% less likely to become obese over time
  • Public transit related injuries are approximately 1/25 of that associated with automobiles
  • 150 million Americans live in areas where air quality does not meet national standards
  • Motor vehicle emissions account for 25%–51% of air pollutants in these areas

The ultimate question, however, is: “Is public transit right for you?” Investigate the options and costs in your area. Do they offer convenient, flexible routes and times that accommodate the start and end of your work day? Can you carpool with friends or relatives? Is the bus stop or rail station within walking distance? Can you handle it in bad weather or your current state of health? If your city still does not offer reasonable public transit options, it may be a good time to let your lawmakers know you support such an initiative and why it’s important to you.

(Research & Writing by Kelly; Graphic Design by Boris)

Kelly Teh is a contributing features writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Kelly Teh at kelly@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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Comments about Infographic: Public Transportation Statistics
  • Roberta Budvietas from Auckland
    on June 2012 said:

    That information is enlightening, next question is to get it into the hands of the people who decide on public transportation and those who avoid. I am seriously thinking of dumping my car but, the challenge is that sometimes to get somewhere in a reasonable time frame, you need a car. Public transport can be awkward to get one around on

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