Monday, June 30, 2008

Dump the Pump, Indeed

A letter to the editor in today’s Austin American Statesman suggests that the best option to reduce fuel consumption would be to drive a fuel efficient car rather than using mass transit.

I can’t imagine that our country would be better off in terms of fuel consumption, pollution, traffic congestion and even stress had many of the 10.3 billion trips provided on public transportation nationwide in 2007 been taken in individual cars instead.

Here are some additional mass transit benefits, courtesy of the American Public Transportation Association:
Energy Conservation - Reducing National Dependence on Foreign Oil:
  • Each year, public transportation use in the U.S. saves 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline. This represents almost 4 million gallons of gasoline per day.
  • The “leverage effect” of public transportation, supporting transportation efficient land use patterns, saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline – more than three times the amount of gasoline refined from the oil we import from Kuwait.
  • Public transportation use saves the equivalent of 300,000 fewer automobile fill-ups every day - 108 million fewer cars filling up annually.
  • Each year, public transportation use saves the equivalent of 34 supertankers of oil, or a supertanker leaving the Middle East every 11 days.
Individual Cost Savings:
  • Public transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary alternative to driving.
  • Each year public transportation households save over $1,399 worth of gas.
  • Transit availability can reduce the need for an additional car, a yearly expense of $6,251 in a household budget.
  • The average household spends 18 cents per dollar on transportation, and 94 percent of this goes to buying, maintaining and operating cars.
  • Americans living in areas served by public transportation save $18 billion annually in congestion costs.
Energy Conservation Benefits:
  • The “leverage effect” of public transportation reduces the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually – equivalent to the electricity used by 4.9 million households. To achieve similar reduction in carbon emissions, every household in New York City, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Denver and Los Angeles combined would have to completely stop using electricity.
  • People living in households within one-quarter mile of rail and one-tenth of a mile from a bus stop drive approximately 4,400 fewer miles annually as compared to persons in similar households with no access to public transit. This equates to an individual household reduction of 223 gallons of gasoline a year.