Public Transportation

What is public transportation?

Public Transportation is buses, trains, subways, and other forms of transportation that charge set fares, run on fixed routes, and are available to the public.

  • In 2014, Americans took 10.8 billion trips on public transportation -- the highest in 58 years. People board public transportation 35 million times each weekday.
  • Since 1995, public transit ridership is up 39 percent, outpacing population growth, which is up 21 percent, and vehicle miles traveled (VTM), which is up 25 percent.
  • Public transportation is a $61 billion industry that employs nearly 400,000 people.
  • More than 7,200 organizations provide public transportation in the United States.

Social and Economic urban effects

Every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns. Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates more than 50,000 jobs. Every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation yields $30 million in increased business sales.

Environmental urban effects

Lessens Pollution


Public transportation in the United States IS a crucial part of the solution to the nation’s economic, energy, and environmental challenges - helping to bring a better quality of life. In increasing numbers, people are using public transportation and local communities are expanding public transit services. Every segment of American society - individuals, families, communities, and businesses - benefits from public transportation yet is continually subject to inequality and segregation.

For example, instead of segregated highway and public transit programs, funding available for roadway and parking facility expansion projects could be used for transit improvements, rideshare programs, or mobility management programs if they are proven to be more cost effective overall.

Improvement in the public transit system—such as additional routes, expanded coverage, increased service frequency, and longer hours of operation; comfort improvements; pricing innovations; improved rider information; and transit oriented development (neighborhoods designed around transit stations)—would bring benefits for all.

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