Every segment of American society—-individuals, families, communities, and businesses—benefits from public transportation. It is a lifeline for millions of Americans connecting them to people, places and possibilities. It also builds thriving communities, creates jobs, eases traffic congestion and promotes a cleaner environment. Investment in public transportation spurs both local and the national economy.

Public Transportation Consists of a Variety of Modes

  • Buses
  • Light rail
  • Subways
  • Commuter trains
  • Streetcars and trolleys
  • Cable cars
  • Van pool services
  • Ferries and water taxis
  • Paratransit services for senior citizens and people with disabilities
  • Monorails and tramways

Quick Facts

  • In 2019, Americans took 9.9 billion trips on public transportation.
  • 34 million times each weekday, people board public transportation.
  • Since 1995, public transportation ridership has increased by 28%—a growth rate higher than the 23% increase in U.S. population.
  • Public transportation is a $74 billion industry that employs more than 436,000 people.
  • Approximately 6,800 organizations provide public transportation in the United States.
  • 45% of Americans have no access to public transportation.
  • Millennials consider public transportation as the best option for digital socializing and among the best for connecting with communities.

Public Transportation Provides Economic Opportunities

  • ​Every $1 invested in public transportation generates $5 in economic returns.
  • Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates approximately 50,000 jobs.
  • Every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation yields $30 million in increased business sales.
  • Every $10 million in operating investment yields $32 million in increased business sales.
  • An estimated $39 billion of public transit expenditures flow into the private sector.
  •  Home values were up to 24% higher near public transportation than in other areas. Hotels in cities with direct rail access to airports raise 11% more revenue per room than hotels in those cities without.

Public Transportation Is a Safer Way to Travel Than by Automobile

  • Traveling by public transportation is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by automobile.
  • A person can reduce his or her chance of being in an accident by more than 90% simply by taking public transit as opposed to commuting by car.

Public Transportation Saves Money

  • T​he average household spends 16 cents of every dollar on transportation, and 93% of this goes to buying, maintaining, and operating cars, the largest expenditure after housing.
  • A household can save nearly $10,000 by taking public transportation and living with one less car.

Public Transportation Reduces Gasoline Consumption

  • ​Public transportation’s overall effects save the United States 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.

Public Transportation Reduces Carbon Footprint

  • ​Communities that invest in public transit reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually.

Public Transportation Enhances Personal Opportunities

  • 87% of trips on public transit have a direct impact on the local economy.
  • Of all riders, 71% are employed and 7% are students.
  • More than two-thirds of riders walk to their stop or station.​​

For more public transportation facts, see the Public Transportation Fact Book or APTA’s full research library.

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