For the past few years, more people have been turning to public transportation in order to save money on the cost of a daily commute. High gas prices and less-than optimal conditions led to the second-highest year of use in American history.
Bus in the wind
The past few years have not been all that great for a lot of people and many have been looking to cut costs wherever they could. One of the biggest costs for many people is incurred by simply going to work. The U.S. Census Bureau, according to the Baltimore Sun, found that between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census, the cost of the daily commute increased by 40 percent to $318 per month for the average person.
However, the Census also found that people who live in “efficient” neighborhoods, or those with access to public transportation, experienced a less severe increase in cost as those who reside in inefficient transportation areas.
Using public transportation, such as buses, trains and subways, brings down the cost of the daily commute, and that is precisely why, according to Reuters, more people have been using public transportation in the past few years.
The American Public Transportation Association reports that ridership of public transportation rose by 2.3 percent since 2010, taking 10.4 billion trips and making 2011 the second-highest year for public transport usage on record since 1957. The all-time record was observed in 2008, when gas prices were at an all-time high and unemployment was higher.
Rural areas, according to Reuters, had the highest growth, increasing public transit use by 5.4 percent. The largest increase by type of transport was observed for light rail systems, which increased ridership by 4.9 percent overall, though some cities recorded huge increases. Seattle, Wash., for instance, reported a 37.2 percent increase in ridership.
Elevated trains and subways recorded a 3.3 percent overall increase in ridership. Commuter rail systems, or commuter trains such as Amtrak, reported a 2.5 percent increase. Large metropolitan bus systems, however, recorded a much smaller increase of just 0.4 percent.
Public transit does save money
Overall, according to CNN, only an estimated 5 percent of the population uses public transport regularly.
Despite so few people using it, making use of the transportation networks that are being paid for with taxes could save a lot of money. According to AutoBlog, the APTA estimated the average person could save $9,242 per year if they were to stick solely to public transport in 2010. In July 2011, based on then-current gas prices, the APTA estimated the average person could save almost $10,000 per year in gas, insurance, parking and other costs by using public transportation instead of a car.