It’s not just your commute—almost everyone is experiencing longer delays and more and more congestion on roadways. According to a 2010 Texas Transportation Institute report, Twin Cities commuters waste on average about 45 hours a year stuck in traffic—that’s a full workweek in your vehicle.
But without public transit, it would be even worse. It is estimated that if public transit stopped and riders traveled in private vehicles, the top 47 urban areas in the U.S.—of which the Twin Cities is one—would see a 19 percent increase in delays.
Adding transit options helps relieve congestion. One full bus removes about 60 cars from the road while a full rail car removes about 200 cars. San Diego removes 35,000 cars from the road daily with transit carrying 18 percent of the trips into the city. St. Louis’ light rail keeps 12,700 cars out of rush hour traffic.
It makes cents
Transit is not just a way to move people. It is a way to develop a region’s economy. For every dollar invested in public transit, $4–$9 is generated in local economic activity. Look at these examples:
- Minneapolis: Met Council estimates the Hiawatha light rail line generated $1.6 billion in permitted building activity from 2002–2005.
- Portland, Ore.: More than $2.8 billion has been invested within three blocks of transit service—that’s more than 7,000 housing units and 4.5 million square feet of commercial area. Private investment in the area is 31 times the amount of the public capital investment.
- Dallas, Texas: Residential properties near light rail lines increased in value by an average of 39 percent, and office buildings increased 53 percent more than comparable properties without transit service.
It’s better for the environment
Transit improves air quality and reduces energy needs. For every passenger-mile traveled, transit produces 95 percent less carbon monoxide and about half as much carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. It also uses about half the fuel of private automobiles, SUVs and light trucks.
In all, transit users in the U.S. save about 1.4 billion gallons of fuel a year.
On an individual level, if one person switched a 20-mile round trip commute from private vehicle to existing transit, they can reduce their fuel use by more than 200 gallons per year and their total greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent (for a typical two-adult, two-car household).
But it doesn’t just help the transit user. By using transit, congestion is relieved, meaning better fuel economy for everyone.