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American Public Transportation Association

 Public Transportation Benefits

Public transportation transforms communities and the lives of the people living in them by spurring economic development, promoting sustainable lifestyles and providing a higher quality of life.  Every segment of American society - individuals, families, communities, and businesses - benefits from public transportation.

Public Transportation Consists of a Variety of Modes

  • Buses
  • Trolleys and light rail
  • Subways
  • Commuter trains
  • Streetcars
  • Cable cars
  • Van pool services
  • Paratransit services for Senior citizens and people with disabilities
  • Ferries and water taxis
  • Monorails and tramways

Quick Facts

  • In 2017, Americans took 10.1 billion trips on public transportation. 
  • 34 million times each weekday, people board public transportation.
  • Since 1995, public transportation ridership has increased by 30% - a growth rate higher than the 22% increase in U.S. population.
  • People board public transportation 35 million times each weekday.
  • Public transportation is a $68 billion industry that employs more than 420,000 people.
  • More than 7,700 organizations provide public transportation in the United States.
  • 45% of Americans have no access to public transportation.
  • Millennials consider public transportation as the best option for digital socializing and among the best for connecting with communities.

Public Transportation Provides Economic Opportunities 

  • ​Every $1 invested in public transportation generates $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 $30 million in increased business sales.
  • Every $10 million in operating investment yields $32 million in increased business sales.
  • 71% of public funding for public transportation flows to the private sector, creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.
  • Home values performed 42% better than when located near high-frequency public transit.
  • Hotels in cities with direct rail access to airports raise 11% more revenue per room than hotels in those cities without.

Public Transportation Is a Safer Way to Travel Than by Automobile

  • A person can reduce his or her chance of being in an accident by more than 90% simply by taking public transit as opposed to commuting by car.
  • Traveling by public transportation is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by automobile.

Public Transportation Saves Money

  • T​he average household spends 18 cents of every dollar on transportation, and 96% of this goes to buying, maintaining, and operating cars, the largest expenditure after housing.
  • A household can save nearly $10,000 by taking public transportation and living with one less car.

Public Transportation Reduces Gasoline Consumption

  • ​Public transportation's overall effects save the United States 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.

Public Transportation Reduces Carbon Footprint

  • ​Communities that invest in public transit reduce the nation's carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually.

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.
  • A total of 87% of trips on public transit have a direct impact on the local economy.
  • Of all riders, 71% are employed and 7% are students.
  • More than two-thirds of riders walk to their stop or station.

For more public transportation facts, see the Public Transportation Fact Book.​

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