San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) generated $1 billion in positive economic impact for the region a new report shows.
Conducted by the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute at Point Loma Nazarene University, the report concludes that every dollar of public investment returns $2.82 in the form of jobs, infrastructure investment, productivity gains, environmental benefits, and money saved by riders.
The transit system generates positive economic impact through several channels, particularly jobs. MTS is responsible for nearly 13,000 jobs and approximately $625 million in total personal income. This includes capital spending, direct and indirect employment, and service contracts. “As the region considers the future of transportation, it is important for policymakers, business leaders, and residents to know the economic linkages and effects of its transit system,” the report said.
Further, transit is an essential link connecting workers and employers and provides access to education and job training programs; more than 300,000 trips each weekday takes San Diegans to and from work or school. And with the U.S.-Mexico border a major economic gateway, transit links workers living in Mexico with employers in San Diego, with about 19,000 bus and trolley trips serving the border daily.
MTS also helps riders save money on transportation. Riders saved an estimated $861 million on transportation last year, with most of those savings happening for low-income families, who comprise most MTS riders.
The report also examined the impact of MTS on reducing the region’s carbon footprint and achieving Climate Action Plan goals. By riding transit, MTS riders helped reduce the region’s greenhouse gas emissions by 97,000 metric tons, the equivalent of 403 million fewer car miles driven and 106 million fewer pounds of coal burned, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency, translating to $13.6 million in environmental savings.
The study also found a positive impact from the safety of transit compared to personal vehicles. By reducing the number of deaths, injuries and property damage caused by car accidents, MTS helped the region save an estimated $6.1 million in expenses related to income loss, health care, rehabilitation, and car repairs.
MTS commissioned the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute to conduct the study based on economic data from the fiscal year ending in June 2018. The Institute has a track record of conducting similar studies for institutions such as the U.S. military and the San Diego Housing Commission.