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 2015, Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation.
- Since 1995, public transit trips is up 37 percent, outpacing population growth, which is up 21 percent, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which is up 30 percent.
- People board public transportation 35 million times each weekday.
- Public transportation is a $66 billion industry that employs more than 400,000 people.
- More than 7,200 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
- Public transportation has a proven record of reducing congestion.
- The latest research shows that in 2011, U.S. public transportation use saved 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel in 498 urban areas.
- Without public transportation, congestion costs in 2011 would have risen by nearly $21 billion from $121 billion to $142 billion in 498 urban areas.
Public Transportation Provides Economic Opportunities & Drives Community Growth and Revitalization
- Every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns.
- Every $1 billion invested in public transportaiton supports and creates more than 50,000 jobs.
- Every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation yields $30 million in increased business sales.
- Home values performed 42 percent better on average if they were located near public transportation with high-frequency service.
Public Transportation Saves Money
- Using public transportation is the quickest way to beat high gas prices.
- According to APTA’s Transit Saving Report, a two-person household can save, on the average, more than $10,174 a year by downsizing to one car.
- Public transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary, alternative to driving.
Public Transportation Reduces Gasoline Consumption
- Public transportation use in the United States saves 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.
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.