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American Public Transportation Association

 Transit News



Lesa Rair
(202) 496-4804

 Rising Gas Prices Mean Transit Riders Save Money While Car Drivers Empty Their Wallets

 Riding public transportation saves individuals on average $9,914 a year

Washington, D.C. – As gas prices rise and predictions rumors swirl of prices reaching five dollars per gallon by this summer; commuters will be asking - what is my tipping point to switch to riding public transportation?  Gas prices have risen more than 18 cents in the last month, giving those who switch from driving to taking public transit the opportunity to save.  According to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) February Transit Savings Report, individuals who ride public transportation instead of driving can save, on average, $826 this month, and $9,914 annually.  

These savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the cost of owning and driving a vehicle which includes the February 21, 2012 average national gas price ($3.57 per gallon- reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate.

“Public transportation is one of the most effective tools in saving commuters money as gas prices skyrocket,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.  “With the volatility of gas prices, it is ironic that there is a proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives to remove dedicated funding for public transit.  The proposal also makes no provisions for continued investment in public transit after 2016.  We call on Congress to help ensure Americans have cost-effective ways to get to work and other important activities.”

APTA releases its monthly Transit Savings Report to examine how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and live with one less car. The national average for a monthly unreserved parking space in a downtown business district is $155.22, according to the 2011 Colliers International Parking Rate Study.  Over the course of a year, parking costs for a vehicle can amount to an average of $1,863.

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 February 21, 2012 and the local monthly unreserved parking rate.*

City Monthly Annual
1 New York $1,216 $14,587
2 Boston $1,125 $13,503
3 San Francisco $1,099 $13,193
4 Seattle $992 $11,899
5 Philadelphia $973 $11,681
6 Chicago $956 $11,471
7 Honolulu $949 $11,388
8 Los Angeles $907 $10,888
9 Minneapolis $876 $10,509
10 San Diego $880 $10,558
11 Denver $836 $10,028
12 Washington, DC $857 $10,284
13 Portland $858 $10,291
14 Baltimore $840 $10,082
15 Cleveland $819 $9,826
16 Miami $801 $9,616
17 Atlanta $784 $9,412
18 Dallas $784 $9,407
19 Pittsburgh $779 $9,344
20 Las Vegas $766 $9,196

*Based on gasoline prices as reported by AAA on 2/21/12.


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 February 21, 2012 at $3.57 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 2011 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 1,500 public and private sector organization which represent a $68 billion industry that directly employs 420,000 people and supports millions of private sector jobs. APTA members are engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.

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