Public transportation in the United States is a crucial part of the solution to the nation’s economic, energy, and environmental challenges - helping to bring a better quality of life. In increasing numbers, people are using public transportation and local communities are expanding public transit services. Every segment of American society - individuals, families, communities, and businesses - benefits from public transportation.
Public Transportation Consists of a Variety of Modes
- Trolleys and light rail
- Commuter trains
- Cable cars
- Van pool services
- Paratransit services for Senior citizens and people with disabilities
- Ferries and water taxis
- Monorails and tramways
- In 2016, Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation.
- People board public transportation 35 million times each weekday.
- Since 1995, public transit ridership is up 34 percent, outpacing population growth, which is up 21 percent, and vehicle miles traveled (VTM), which is up 33 percent.
- Public transportation is a $61 billion industry that employs nearly 400,000 people.
- More than 6,800 organizations provide public transportation in the United States.
Public Transportation Enhances Personal Opportunities
- Public transportation provides personal mobility and freedom for people from every walk of life.
- Access to public transportation gives people transportation options to get to work, go to school, visit friends, or go to a doctor’s office.
- Public transportation provides access to job opportunities for millions of Americans.
Public Transportation Saves Fuel, Reduces Congestion
- Americans living in areas served by public transportation save 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel annually in congestion reduction alone.
- Without public transportation, congestion costs would have been an additional $21 billion.
Public Transportation Provides Economic Opportunities & Drives Community Growth and Revitalization
- Public transportation offers individuals access to jobs.
- 87 percent of public transit trips impact the economy.
- Every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns.
- Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates more than 50,000 jobs.
- Every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation yields $32 million in increased business sales.
- Residential property values performed 42 percent better on average if they were located near public transportation with high-frequency service.
Public Transportation Saves Money
- Public transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary, alternative to driving.
- According to APTA's most recent Transit Savings Report, a two-person household can save, on the average, more than $9,797 a year by downsizing to one car.
Public Transportation Reduces Gasoline Consumption
- Public transportation’s overall effects save the United States 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.
- Households near public transit drive an average of 4,400 fewer miles than households with no access to public transit. This equates to an individual household reduction of 223 gallons per year.
Public Transportation Reduces Carbon Footprint
- Public transportation use in the United States reduces our nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually. This is equivalent to Washington, DC; New York City; Atlanta; Denver; and Los Angeles combined stopping using electricity.
- One person with a 20-mile round trip commute who switches from driving to public transit can reduce his or her daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds, or more than 4,800 pounds in a year.
- A single commuter switching his or her commute to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 percent and up to 30 percent if he or she eliminates a second car..
For more public transportation facts, see the Public Transportation Fact Book.