Commuters Continue to Switch to Public Transit in Record Numbers

September 4, 2008

Chicago-Area Transit Users Save Up to $11,738 Annually on Commute Costs

Excessively high gas prices, a weakened economy and increasingly congested roadways are driving more commuters to public transit than ever before. Ridership on CTA buses and trains is growing at record pace as commuters make the switch to a more cost efficient travel option. Preliminary CTA ridership numbers for August 2008 show an increase of 9.5 percent compared to August 2007. In hard numbers, that means that 1.9 million more bus rides and 808,000 more train rides were taken this August, compared to last August. For the year, ridership is up 5.3 percent compared to 2007. These increases demonstrate the growing recognition of the value of public transit by those seeking relief from the escalating cost of getting from here to there.



Mantill Williams, (202) 496-4869
Virginia Miller, (202) 496-4816



WASHINGTON, DC - Despite declining gas prices, a person can achieve an average annual savings of $9,596 per year by taking public transportation instead of driving based on today's gas prices and the average unreserved parking rate according to the American Public Transportation Association's "Transit Savings Report." The report is a monthly analysis that shows the average annual savings represents more than one third more than the average amount a household pays for food in a year, according to the Food Institute ($6,111).

With the price of gas hovering at 89 cents higher than last year, transit users have an increased savings of $411 annually compared to this time last year.

APTA's monthly "Transit Savings Report" shows how much a person can save on a monthly and yearly basis by taking public transportation and living with one less car in his or her household. The report reminds commuters that taking public transportation is the quickest way to save money compared with the high cost of commuting by auto or light truck.

This month's analysis also includes the cost of parking. On average, according to the 2008 Colliers International Parking Rate Study, the national average for the monthly unreserved parking rate in a city's downtown business district is $143. Over the course of a year, parking costs alone can amount to an average of $1,720.

In addition to the annual savings, the report calculates the monthly savings for public transit users at $800 per month based on today's gas price of $3.678 as reported by AAA.

The top 20 cites with the highest ridership are ranked in order of their transit savings based on the purchase of a monthly public transportation pass and factoring in today's local gas prices and the local monthly unreserved parking rate.*


Top Twenty Cities - Transit Savings Report
  City Monthly Savings Annual Savings
1 Boston $1,124 $13,490
2 New York $1,119 $13,431
3 San Francisco $1,054 $12,648
4 Chicago $978 $11,738
5 Philadelphia $946 $11,346
6 Seattle $944 $11,327
7 Honolulu $935 $11,215
8 Washington DC $883 $10,593
9 Los Angeles $871 $10,455
10 Minneapolis $859 $10,302
11 San Diego $853 $10,233
12 Cleveland $839 $10,072
13 Denver $829 $9,947
14 Portland $826 $9,916
15 Baltimore $804 $9,654
16 Miami $777 $9,320
17 Atlanta $761 $9,129
18 Dallas $758 $9,095
19 Las Vegas $753 $9,038  
20 Pittsburgh $716 $8,589
*Based on gasoline prices as reported by AAA on 9/4/08.



APTA calculates the average cost of taking public transit by determining the average monthly transit pass of local public transit agencies across the country. This information is based on the annual APTA fare collection survey and is weighted based on ridership (unlinked passenger trips). The assumption is that a person making a switch to public transportation would likely purchase an unlimited pass on the local transit agency, typically available on a monthly basis.

APTA then compares the average monthly transit fare to the average cost of driving. The cost of driving is calculated using the 2008 AAA average cost of driving formula. AAA cost of driving formula is based on variable cost and fixed cost. The variable cost includes the cost of gas, maintenance, and tires. The fixed cost includes insurance, license registration, depreciation, and finance charges. The comparison also uses the average mileage of a mid-size auto at 23.4 miles per gallon and today's price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline as recorded by AAA at $3.678 per gallon. The analysis also assumes that a person will drive an average of 15,000 miles per year. The savings assumes a household gives up one car.

In determining the cost of parking, APTA uses the data from the 2008 Colliers International Parking Rate Study for monthly unreserved parking rates for the United States.

To calculate your individual savings with or without car ownership, go to www.publictransportation.org.

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APTA is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 member organizations including public transportation systems; planning, design, construction and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; and state associations and departments of transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical public transportation services and products. APTA members serve more than 90 percent of persons using public transportation in the United States and Canada.

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