A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
The new report, “Driving Commuter Choice in America, Expanding Transportation Choices Can Reduce Congestion, Save Money and Cut Pollution,” found that if commuters integrate carpooling, public transit and telecommuting into their daily commutes, they could save more than $1,800 annually and reduce their total vehicle miles traveled by 10% to 50%.
This falls in line with APTA’s quarterly Transit Savings Report, however, APTA’s predicted cost savings is much higher — $816 a month, $9,795 annually, as of May 31 — because it factors in the cost of fuel and parking amongst other factors.
“All across the country, a shift is taking place,” said Rob Perks, transportation state campaign director for NRDC in a press release. “Increasingly, Americans are choosing to live in walkable communities, where they have more transportation choices that allow them to live closer to their jobs, and shops and schools, rather than stuck in traffic. Along with the personal freedom these communities provide, it’s exactly the kind of growth our country needs to cut pollution, save money and create a vibrant quality of life.”
The NRDC’s report found that if 25% of Americans adopted one of these alternative driving choices, the U.S. could reduce annual transportation emissions by 3% to 12%, reduce transportation fuel use by billions of gallons per year and save consumers tens of billions of dollars in transportation spending each year. In addition, more choices in transportation would allow commuters to drive less, leading to less congestion in metropolitan areas, less wear and tear on roads, and less spending to maintain the nation’s infrastructure.
Specifically to transit, the report found that increasing transit round-trip work commutes by four round trips each month can reduce driving costs by 14% to 26%.
NRDC’s report also recommends policy solutions to invest in expanded transportation choices, including building more compact, walkable transit-oriented neighborhoods and better transportation solutions.
The findings of these two studies — that public transit is a key alternative for the traveling public — can only help the industry’s case with politicians when it comes time for a new transportation authorization bill. With the strain on federal funds continuing to be an issue, however, these studies can perhaps more importantly help the industry enforce its case when it comes to referendums at the state and local levels, which have found tremendous success over the last several years.
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Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Driving a bus never looked easy. Living in California and being stuck in my car as much as I am, I’ve always had tremendous respect for the men and women who operate buses on a daily basis. So, when the call came that I would get my shot to drive in Sunday’s APTA Bus Roadeo, I was both excited and nervous.
Earlier this week, Metro Atlanta voters in 10 counties shot down the “Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax,” or T-SPLOST, by an overwhelming a majority, 63% to 37%.
If passed, T-SPLOST would have created a 1% sales tax to help pay for an already determined $7.2 billion package of regional transportation projects, including $3.2 billion for transit plus another $1.1 billion in local projects.