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The Benefits to Public Transportation

Updated on June 3, 2013

Buses, light rails, and trollies: if you live in the city, and own a vehicle, you've probably griped about their presence on the streets on your way to or from work on more than one occasion. The fact is, in urban areas, they're practically everywhere you look: especially during the rush hours. But while honking at that seemingly inconsiderate bus driver, have you ever stopped to wonder what it would be like to try taking the bus, subway, trolly, or lightrail to work yourself sometime?

Americans take over ten billion trips using public transportation every year, and the number of US citizens utilizing this service has been increasing annually. Thus, it goes without saying, public transportation is not just for people who can't afford a vehicle, or have a suspended drivers' license. Needless to say, there are plenty of advantages to parking your vehicle for a day or so to experiment with the public transportation your city has to offer, several of which are referenced below. Having utilized it on numerous occasions myself, I think it's fair to say that if this article inspires you to find a convenient route to and from your place of business, there's a good chance you may never take your car to work again.

Cutting Back on Transportation Costs

The average American spent almost $3,000.00, or roughly four percent of their income, on gasoline to fuel up their vehicle in 2012. If three-quarters of that travel was work-related, the average American spent $2,250.00 traveling to and from their jobs last year. Assuming the average American travels to work 250 times per year, that's nine dollars a day on gasoline! Granted, not everyone lives across the street from their employer, but so long as you live in a metro area within a reasonable distance from where you earn a living you should be able to get by spending half that amount, or less, using public transportation.

I once worked a temporary job sixteen miles from my home in Saint Paul, MN. I found a bus route that took me there in less than an hour, with only one transfer. The daily costs were $4.50, ($2.25 there, and $2.25 back). The longest of the two bus rides was clean, warm, and quiet as well. I'm currently working a job eleven miles from my home, and the bus route I take is about forty-five minutes, and again, involves only one transfer. The daily travel costs for my present job are the same, $4.50, but if I transferred to the evening shift, which I have worked in the past, the daily costs would be a dollar less, (the prices are increased in the Twin Cities metro by fifty cents during rush hours). Assuming an average savings utilizing public transportation of $4.50 per day, that's $1,125.00 saved annually on travel expenses, and that doesn't include possible parking fees, which could tally up to an additional ten dollars per day. Think of what purposes that extra money could be put towards: retirement, your children's education, paying off your mortgage, etc, and for doing nothing other than surrendering your pride in transporting yourself to work everyday.

Less Hassle

Let's face it, driving to and from a job during regular business hours is a royal hassle, especially if you live in a Northern state, like MN, where residents experience over four months of snowy weather every year. You have to warm up your vehicle, scrape the windows, oftentimes travel on icy or snow covered roads, not to mention frequent traffic congestion and road construction. That being said, I seriously doubt many people actually enjoy this part of their work every day. So why deal with it?

On a bus, light rail, or trolly ride you can relax, read a book, listen to music, talk on your cell phone, even snooze, without any concerns regarding road conditions, weather, or traffic congestion. Most forms of public transportation don't have eating restrictions aboard either, so if you're running late, eat breakfast on the go without any worries. It's convenient, safe, and typically no more time-consuming than fighting traffic to get to work behind the wheel. And if you feel like going out for a few drinks with co-workers after work, no worries, you have a sober designated driver to take you home!

It's Better for the Environment

Current public transportation usage enables the US to save approximately eleven million gallons of gasoline each day. It also cuts back significantly on Carbon Dioxide emissions. The average American can reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions by 4,800 pounds per year by utilizing public transportation. So if money is no object, and you're one of the few who actually enjoy driving to work, consider using public transportation on occasions nonetheless. If for no other reason, do it for the environment. It really does make a difference!


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