September 20, 2021

Public Transportation Doesn’t Always Pencil Out

public transportation bus

Public transportation needs a boost in average ridership across the boards to be truly environmentally and cost effective

Mention the words “public transportation” and most people think of environmental and cost savings. Groups of people traveling together keeps cars with single occupants off the roads resulting in a reduced impact on the world we live in.

That is sound thinking, yet isn’t the end result in most cases according to some experts. In order for the environmental savings to be felt, along with a viable, sustainable business model to be achieved, ridership needs to be much higher than it currently is in most of the cities across the United States.

According to urban policy expert, Robert O’Toole, the average ridership on public transportation options averages about 20 percent across the boards. Commuter rail comes in at 21 percent, light rail averages 14 percent, while motor buses average 15 percent. This according to data published on O’Toole’s site.

More Americans are using public transportation, especially in the face of rising gas prices, yet the system depends on higher occupancy rates to gain efficiency. In the end, as it sits today, it just doesn’t pencil out from an environmental perspective nor a dollars and sense one.

One mode of public transportation that has proven to be more effective are van pools. These run only at heavy commuting times and focus on areas with a higher rider population. Average occupancy runs at 59 percent.