Report shows public transit use saves time, fuel and cuts congestion costs

Haste makes waste and gridlock does the same. But gridlock is worse: it also causes delays.

Subway station platform view of NY traffic
Subway station platform view of NY traffic

Out is a new report called the 2012 Urban Mobility Report, published by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute or TTI.

In a press release, the TTI writes: “Rankings of the nation’s most congested cities vary slightly from year to year, and many of this year’s top 10 are repeat performers. Washington, D.C. tops the list, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, New York-Newark and Boston. The second five include Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle. The report provides a detailed illustration of traffic problems in a total of 498 U.S. urban areas.”

For the first time, TTI estimates carbon dioxide­ (­C­O2) emission releases due to congested traffic – an estimated 56 billion pounds nationwide or an average 380 pounds in 2011 for every car commuter.

Wasted fuel on account of congestion is another factor considered by TTI – 2.9 billion gallons. This was not the most. In 2005, wasted was 3.2 billion gallons.

Interesting to note is that for the 498 areas evaluated (consisting of 15 very large metropolitan areas, 32 large metro areas, 33 medium areas, 21 small areas and 397 areas considered “other”), 56.01 billion passenger-miles were made on public transportation. The savings realized by such are impressive.

Eliminated was a total of 865 million hours of additional delay. Meanwhile, the aggregate number of gallons of fuel saved was 450 million.

In the 2012 Urban Mobility Report TTI reasoned, “The value of the additional travel delay and fuel that would have been consumed if there were no public transportation service would be an additional $20.8 billion, a 15% increase over current congestion costs in the 498 urban areas.”

The long and short of it is that Americans in motor vehicles experienced 5.5 billion hours of delay, the vehicles themselves consuming “an extra 2.9 billion gallons of fuel for a congestion cost of $121 billion.”

TTI, meanwhile, in the release added, “The 2012 installment of the study includes 30 years of trend data with which TTI has measured and analyzed traffic congestion and its impact on life in urban America. The report is the third prepared in partnership with INRIX, a leading private-sector provider of travel time information for both commuters and shippers.”

Published by Alan Kandel