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American Public Transportation Association

 Transit News



Mantill Williams
(202) 496-4869

 Rapidly Rising Gas Prices Give Public Transit Riders Highest Savings in Two Years


Individuals can save more than $800 this month.

Washington, DC- Gas prices have increased 28 cents a gallon in the last 10 days and are expected to continue rising. As a result, riding public transportation saves individuals, on average, $9,904 annually and $825 per month based on the March 4, 2011 average national gas price ($3.47 per gallon-reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate.  This is the highest savings for public transit riders in two years. 

“As gas prices rise, using public transportation is the quickest way people can beat high gasoline prices,” states William Millar, president American Public Transportation Association (APTA). 

As uncertainty in other parts of the world persists, and Americans continue to suffer economic woes, making the change to public transit today gives individuals the opportunity to lower their transportation costs, without sacrificing their freedom and mobility. Switching from driving to riding public transportation for even a few of their trips is a proven way for individuals to cut monthly and yearly transportation costs. 

APTA releases this monthly “Transit Savings Report” to examine how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car.

The national average for a monthly unreserved parking space in a downtown business district is $161.56, according to the 2010 Colliers International Parking Rate Study.  Over the course of a year, parking costs for a vehicle can amount to an average of $1,939.

The top 20 cities with the highest transit ridership are ranked in order of their transit savings based on the purchase of a monthly public transit pass and factoring in local gas prices for March 4, 2011 and the local monthly unreserved parking rate.*

Top Twenty Cities – Transit Savings Report
   City  Monthly Savings  Annual Savings
 1  New York  $1,198  $14,376
 2  Boston  $1,099  $13,188
 3  San Francisco  $1,088  $13,055
 4  Chicago  $991  $11,889
 5  Seattle  $973  $11,682
 6  Philadelphia  $957  $11,487
 7  Honolulu  $932  $11,181
 8  Los Angeles  $894  $10,725
 9  Minneapolis  $876  $10,510
 10  San Diego  $866  $10,396
 11  Portland  $848  $10,170
 12  Denver  $844  $10,125
 13  Cleveland  $833  $9,996
 14  Baltimore  $829  $9,953
 15  Washington, DC  $829  $9,944
 16  Miami  $815  $9,781
 17  Pittsburgh $780  $9,364
 18  Dallas  $776  $9,311
 19  Atlanta $ 771  $9,258
 20  Las Vegas  $764  $9,164

*Based on gasoline prices as reported by AAA on 3/4/11.


APTA calculates the average cost of taking public transit by determining the average monthly transit pass of local public transit agencies across the country.  This information is based on the annual APTA fare collection survey and is weighted based on ridership (unlinked passenger trips).  The assumption is that a person making a switch to public transportation would likely purchase an unlimited pass on the local transit agency, typically available on a monthly basis.

APTA then compares the average monthly transit fare to the average cost of driving.  The cost of driving is calculated using the 2011 AAA average cost of driving formula.  AAA cost of driving formula is based on variable costs and fixed costs.  The variable costs include the cost of gas, maintenance and tires.  The fixed costs include insurance, license registration, depreciation and finance charges.  The comparison also uses the average mileage of a mid-size auto at 23.4 miles per gallon and the price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline as recorded by AAA on March 4, 2011 at $3.47 per gallon.  The analysis also assumes that a person will drive an average of 15,000 miles per year.  The savings assume a person in two-person household lives with one less car.

In determining the cost of parking, APTA uses the data from the 2010 Colliers International Parking Rate Study for monthly unreserved parking rates for the United States.

To calculate your individual savings with or without car ownership, go to  

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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of more than 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services, and high-speed rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA member systems.

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