Public Transportation Saves Up To $16,000 Per Year


Via Bikocity:

NYC Metro

We are all aware of the financial argument for using public transportation — it is way, way cheaper. Weighing out the costs and benefits is tricky, but the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) monthly Transit Savings Reports have made it beautifully clear. Ranking the savings for the 20 cities with the highest rates of public transportation use, the latest report finds that they span from $1,343 per month (New York, #1), to $877 per month (Dallas, #20). These figures are calculated by comparing the cost of a monthly transit pass to the cost of gas, parking, and other variables such as insurance, tires, and maintenance. Parking costs alone average almost $2,000 annually, according to APTA.

While it’s hard to weigh out the benefit of having a private vehicle (even as a New Yorker, I dream of trading in my Metrocard for a car that will be sitting outside my doorstep come winter), its hard to argue with saving $16,114 a year. With the national average totaling almost $800 a month in savings, one could still use taxis and/or rental cars as needed and come out with a lot of extra cash. Not to mention, not driving oneself can cut stress, improve health, and allow time for reading, checking emails, etc.

As an individual choosing to go car-free, the financial benefits well outweigh any cons (I’ll take that Caribbean vacation in exchange for walking to the bus, thanks!), but in a 2-person household, which is what these figures are based off of, it’s even so much easier eliminating one car. Enjoy the chart for August, and go here to calculate your own savings.

 City  Monthly  Annual
1 New York $1,349 $16,185
2 San Francisco $1,226 $14,715
3 Boston $1,188 $14,260
4 Philadelphia $1,110 $13,316
5 Seattle $1,106 $13,267
6 Los Angeles $1,101 $13,207
7 Chicago $1,100 $13,203
8 Honolulu $1,070 $12,846
9 San Diego $1,052 $12,620
10 Portland $1,004 $12,050
11 Minneapolis $988 $11,860
12 Denver $979 $11,745
13 Baltimore $966 $11,594
14 Washington, DC $948 $11,381
15 Pittsburgh $932  $11,185
16 Cleveland $910  $10,920
17 Las Vegas $904  $10,851
18 Miami $896  $10,755
19 Atlanta $896  $10,753
20 Dallas $884  $10,609

Image by Sakeeb Sabakka (some rights reserved)

About the Author

is a graduate of Eugene Lang College at the New School with a B.A. in Education Studies. She has a passion for social justice -- in education and any other form it takes. In this sense, she sees alternative energy and environmental initiatives as a way to support the well-being of all people, but particularly those most burdened by inequality and climate change. She currently resides in New York City, where she spends her free time cooking and reading mystery novels.
  • Marcel

    Going on vacation pollutes too. I’ll let you estimate how much CO2 a transatlantic return flight or flying to an exotic place can release… I like the idea of reducing the number of cars on the road but have found the public transport option to be deceiving since it’s always crowded and sometimes the doors won’t close (sensors) because there are too many on board. Plus frequency is an issue as well, one bus every half hour doesn’t cut it.
    Didn’t have a good experience depending on others to get to places, would rather ride my bike and not pollute at all. Even with congestion issues, it’s more than twice as fast to go to work by car in my case. Finding a place in town is nearly impossible and very expensive so there are flaws to the arguments of living in the city and taking the bus. Not to mention all the diseases and logistic problems you may encounter… It’s a rant because mobility is a major issue and they’re not doing much to solve it in my area at the moment. Just keep increasing population and over-crowding everything so we can live in cubicles and be squashed in public transport..

  • Marion Meads

    This is not a valid comparison. Take the time saved in using public transportation versus personal vehicle. From where I work and where I live, a distance of 28 miles, public transportation would require 4 transfers, costing me a total of 2 hours each way. You can compute the commute times in Google Maps, cars versus available public transpo.

    Our work offer free charging. Our home has solar PV that produces more than enough to cover the needs of my car. So practically my fuel is free.

    I lease the Spark EV at $139/month, then there is that California Rebate from air resources board of $2,500, driving my lease down to $75/month. My insurance is $600/year, and so my total cost per month, fuel, insurance, lease = $125/month.

    For my case, to use public transpo, I need to buy 4 monthly passes, since they are on different cities and districts, each one costing $35/month. So my monthly passes are $140/month.

    Now if I use my car, it takes only 30 minutes versus the public transpo of 2 hrs each way. So I saved 1.5 hrs each way with my car. For the day, I saved 3 hrs. And for each month, I saved 66 hrs. I earn between $50-$60/hr and have lots of opportunity everywhere for each free time that I have. I would be losing an opportunity cost of $3,360/month when using public transportation. If I subtract the federal and state taxes, that would be a net of $1680/month tax free.

    So using Spark EV car I spend: $125/month total
    Using a public transportation I spend: $140/month and losing $1,680/month after taxes.

    The advantage of using an electric car for me is not losing $1,695/month in real money from the time saved and the free fuel compared to public transportation. For the whole year, that would be losing $20,340 (tax free money) if I use public transportation.

    • Marcel

      Detailed analysis, just missing the tire costs. Going electric would possibly have a similar impact for myself since I’d need to get a bus pass and a train pass and those don’t come cheap around here.
      Another issue with public transport: see London subway strikes…. The future should be smaller autonomous vehicles that pick you up and drop you off without delay. In the ideal future a vast majority would be autonomous so no more buses and no more traffic jams. Just autonomous 8 seat vehicles going around and heading to the renewable energy powered charging station once in a while.

    • I save time (a *lot* of it) by using public transit. I can do stuff on transit. I can’t while driving.