Natural Resources Defense Council: transit saves money and the environment
A new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council says that commuters could save more than $1,800 annually by integrating carpooling, public transit, and telecommuting into their daily commutes. By adopting the strategies contained in the report, NRDC says that individuals can reduce their total vehicle miles traveled by 10 to 50 percent.
Driving Commuter Choice in America, Expanding Transportation Choices Can Reduce Congestion, Save Money and Cut Pollution found that the four types of commuters in America—city, suburban, rural and town, and non-commuters—could see the greatest amount of savings (between $400-$1,800) if they switched to carpooling every day. Transit savings range from nearly $450-$600 annually.
“All across the country, a shift is taking place,” said Rob Perks, transportation state campaign director for NRDC. “Increasingly, Americans are choosing to live in walkable communities, where they have more transportation choices that allow them to live closer to their jobs, and shops and schools, rather than stuck in traffic. Along with the personal freedom these communities provide, it’s exactly the kind of growth our country needs to cut pollution, save money and create a vibrant quality of life.”
If 25 percent of Americans adopted one of these alternative driving choices, NRDC says the the United States could reduce annual transportation emissions by three to 12 percent, reduce transportation fuel use by billions of gallons per year, and save consumers tens of billions of dollars in transportation spending each year.
Report recommendations include:
- Increase transit use: Increasing transit round-trip work commutes by four days (or eight trips) each month can reduce driving costs by 14 to 26 percent.
- Increase carpooling: Switching to carpooling 20 days per month reduces the number of driving trips and vehicle miles traveled, and can reduce driving costs by about 40 to 50 percent.
- Increase trip-chaining: Use trip-chaining (mostly by planning trips in advance) for errands, appointments, etc. Reducing non-work trips by 75 percent per month could reduce driving costs by 10 to 15 percent.
- Increase telecommuting: Telecommuting four days each month could reduce driving costs by 11 to 14 percent. An average telecommuter (twice per month) saves $169 in auto-related costs annually (gas, maintenance and tires), not counting savings from tolls or parking.
“With gas prices on the rise, many commuters are turning to transit as a convenient, low-cost alternative to paying more at the pump. One of the fastest, cheapest ways to solve the problem of high gas prices is to break our nation’s addiction to oil by investing in clean, efficient modes of transit that go farther on a gallon of gas—or no gas at all.,” Perks said.
NRDC’s report recommends policy solutions to invest in expanded transportation choices. Building more compact, walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods and better transportation solutions will ensure that communities are sustainable, NRDC says.