: Size Up Your Situation

Costs (and Benefits) of Public Transportation

BusIf you live in an area with reliable access to public transit, the American Public Transport Association reports that you can save over $10,000 per year on transportation costs. 

There is no doubt that using public transportation can be a money saver – you usually only pay for it when you use it, and you do not have to pay anything extra for maintenance, repairs or ongoing improvements to transit vehicles (other than through your tax dollars). 

If you are lucky enough to have an employer who provides public transit passes to employees, then the out-of-pocket cost can be minimal or nonexistent.

Many people choose alternate transit options for other reasons, such as:

  • Decreased environmental impact (lessening one’s carbon footprint).
  • Increased well-being and decreased stress from driving.
  • Time gained to work, read or relax. 
  • Decreased wear and tear on personal vehicles.
  • Health benefits from walking to and from public transit stops or stations.
  • Increased feeling of community from interacting with others on your transit route.

As with any choice, taking public transit has its trade-offs. When you consider public transportation options, recognize the opportunity costs associated with:

  • Planning around transit schedules.
  • Space and privacy limitations on crowded buses or trains.
  • Delays due to weather conditions or mechanical failures. 
  • Close proximity to strangers. 

Calculate your annual savings using public transportation and research transit options in your state using this calculator from American Public Transit Association. And if your employer allows you to telecommute (work from home), that is another way to reduce your environmental impact.

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