Tuesday, March 25, 2008

American Public Transit Needs Overhaul to Meet 21st Century Challenges

As the 21st century presents us with many new challenges, our current public transit system does not measure up. America has more cars per capita than any other country in the world, has doubled the number of miles driven compared to the last quarter-century, and "our" insistence on driving large automobiles only contributes to the problems we need to address.

Global warming, public security, rising fuel cost, an over abundance of traffic, makes it critical we revamp our public transportation system. By reducing our dependence on the automobile we can reverse the current trend of two out of every three barrels of oil in the United States fueling our transportation system. For every dollar we invest in public transit, America saves nearly two dollars in cost from relying on the old method of transportation, not to mention the benefits to our global environment.

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), who takes on powerful interests on behalf of the American public, reported why rail, rapid buses and other forms of public transit must play a more prominent role in America’s future transportation system.

Existing public transportation already plays a key role in addressing key problems faced by America:

-In 2006, transit saved an estimated 3.4 billion gallons of gasoline in the United States—enough to fuel 5.8 million cars for a year. In monetary terms, transit saved more than $9 billion that would otherwise have been spent on gasoline.

-In 2005, transit prevented 540.8 million hours of traffic delay, according to the Texas Transportation Institute, equivalent to more than 61,700 people sitting in traffic for an entire year. The monetary value of those savings was $10.2 billion.

-Transit reduced global warming emissions by nearly 26 million metric tons in 2006. In New York state alone, transit avoided 11.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution—more than was produced by the entire economies of Rhode Island, Vermont or the District of Columbia.


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