America’s future is riding on public transportation

The federal investment in transportation is an investment in American jobs and in protecting global economic competitiveness. Public transportation is the way that millions of Americans get to and from jobs, school, medical care, and other places they travel to everyday. More than 10 billion times a year public transportation customers use an interconnected system of national significance that links our regions, urban and suburban centers, and rural communities. Only through substantial and sustained investment may the integrated network of public transportation services maintain its essential role in the nation’s overall transportation system.

Public transportation benefits by the numbers

Robust investment in public transportation, as outlined by the APTA recommendations, annually results in more than a million jobs, generates billions in tax revenue, saves people money, and provides a dramatic boost for the private sector. It helps people make vital connections, creates shorter and less expensive trips for non-public transit users, expands the labor market for employers, and provides Americans the opportunity for upward mobility.

Quick Facts

  • In 2016, Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation.
  • People board public transportation 35 million times each weekday.
  • Since 1995, public transit ridership is up 34 percent, outpacing population growth, which is up 21 percent, and vehicle miles traveled (VTM), which is up 33 percent.
  • Public transportation is a $61 billion industry that employs nearly 400,000 people.
  • More than 6,800 organizations provide public transportation in the United States.

Public transportation has a positive economic impact on communities

  • Every $1 communities invest in public transportation approximately $4 is generated in economic returns.
  • Every $10 million in operating investment in public transportation yields $32 million in increased business sales.
  • Residential property values perform 42 percent better on average if they are located near public transportation with high-frequency service.
  • 1.1 million jobs are created or sustained per year because of public transportation.

Public transportation gives access

  • Public transportation provides personal mobility and freedom for people from every walk of life.
  • Access to public transportation gives people transportation options to get to work, go to school, visit friends, or go to a doctor’s office.
  • Public transportation provides access to job opportunities for millions of Americans.

Public transportation saves fuel, reduces congestion

  • Access to bus and rail lines reduces driving by 4,400 miles per household annually.
  • Americans living in areas served by public transportation save 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel annually in congestion reduction alone.
  • Without public transportation, congestion costs would have been an additional $21 billion.
  • Public transportation’s overall effects save the United States 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.
  • Households near public transit drive an average of 4,400 fewer miles than households with no access to public transit. This equates to an individual household reduction of 223 gallons per year.

Public transportation saves money

  • Public transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary, alternative to driving.
  • According to APTA's  most recent Transit Savings Report​, a two-person household can save, on the average, more than $9,797 a year by downsizing to one car.

Public transportation reduces carbon footprint

  • Public transportation use in the United States reduces our nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually. This is equivalent to Washington, DC; New York City; Atlanta; Denver; and Los Angeles combined stopping using electricity. 
  • One person with a 20-mile round trip commute who switches from driving to public transit can reduce his or her daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds, or more than 4,800 pounds in a year.
  • A single commuter switching his or her commute to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 percent and up to 30 percent if he or she eliminates a second car.


For more public transportation facts, see the Public Transportation Fact Book.​​


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