Voices for Public Transit is looking beyond the dollars and cents to see how public transit helps create strong communities that benefit everyone in them.
This is the third blog in our 2017 kickoff series to highlight the many benefits of public transportation. In our first two posts, we examined the economic and employment benefits that come from investment in public transit.
Safer, More Efficient Travel
Public transportation makes traveling safer by reducing injuries from accidents, ultimately saving lives. Riding public transportation is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by car. In addition, all forms of transportation are safer in regions with a strong public transit system, improving the lives of all residents including those who do not use public transportation.
Fewer people using individual cars = less road congestion for everyone. Without public transportation, travel delays would be significantly worse — and research shows that this applies to regions of all sizes. Large, urban regions — such as the New York metropolitan area — see the greatest benefits in terms of saved time and dollars, but smaller, less densely populated communities benefit as well.
You may not realize it, but those who use public transportation see not just economic benefits but health benefits as well. Using public transit often requires a level of physical activity — such as standing at a station or walking to a final destination. These benefits are so significant that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends expanding public transit to improve public health.
Public transportation use also reduces air pollution. Fewer cars on the roads mean less exhaust, improving the air quality for the entire community.
Vibrant Commercial and Entertainment Districts
Cultural, commercial, and retail districts are all stimulated by public transportation access. Communities with strong public transportation systems are able to attract more visitors, host successful public events, and support local commerce. In addition, the availability of public transit reduces the need for parking lots, freeing up additional space for housing, commercial buildings, plazas, and city parks.
On top of providing economic benefits, public transit-supported districts give communities a sense of “place,” increasing social interaction, and contributing to neighborhood safety and stability. People who cannot drive or do not have access to a vehicle, like seniors, students, and people with disabilities, can still access neighborhoods with public transportation.
Public transportation knits communities together. The economics of public transportation are hugely positive, and the benefits of public transportation go deeper than just financial savings. Public transit transforms our communities and improves our daily lives, whether we ride it every day ourselves or not.