?Beaches, camping, cruises and parks are great, but city vacations top the list of summer travel destinations for most Americans. According to the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) Green Travel Forecast, the association's annual travel survey, 54 percent of summer vacationers heading to urban destinations will use the local public transportation system to get around during their stay. In addition, 65 percent say public transportation played a role in their destination choice.
"The summer travel season is upon us, and with volatile gas prices Americans are looking for ways to stretch their travel budgets," said APTA president William Millar. "Public transportation has always been a way to save money without limiting your mobility. Most cities have terrific transit systems that allow visitors and locals alike a chance to explore and enjoy all a city has to offer without breaking the bank."
Cities are a top vacation locale, and the Green Travel Forecast is the only nationwide visitor survey that gauges how travelers will get around once they reach their destination. The results (54 percent) mark the highest number recorded in the four-year history of the Green Travel Forecast, up six percentage points from the initial survey in 2007.
The survey, conducted by travel and leisure market research firm Synovate, questioned 34,460 U.S. adults in April 2011. The results continue to highlight the growing trend among U.S. travelers to use public transportation while on vacation.
Sixty-five percent of respondents said that the availability of public transit played a role in their choice of travel destination, with 24 percent saying it had a strong influence.
Top 10 cities where visitors were influenced by public transit options:
New York 73 percent
Philadelphia 72 percent
Los Angeles 71 percent
Boston 70 percent
San Francisco 70 percent
Washington, D.C. 69 percent
Chicago 67 percent
Atlanta 67 percent
Seattle 60 percent
Las Vegas 55 percent
"The high costs of gas, parking, car rentals and cabs make taking public transit the easy choice," said Millar. "When you take a bus, train or subway, you not only save money, you also don't have to worry about navigating the roads of an unfamiliar city."
Surveyed travelers cited cost and convenience as top concerns when asked the most important reasons for choosing transit during their trip. Slightly more than half (54 percent) stated that using public transit played a role in reducing their overall travel costs. Fifty-one percent anticipate it will be less costly than taking taxis or renting a car, while 50 percent state they won't have to worry about finding a parking space for their vehicle, and 36 percent cite driving in an unfamiliar city as a reason for choosing public transit.
The cost savings for travelers who choose transit are significant. Many transit systems offer visitor passes for under $10 per day, which allow unlimited rides. This is a fraction of the cost to rent a car, park a car, buy gas or take multiple taxi rides. The daily parking rate, according to the 2010 Colliers International Parking Rate Study, is $40 in midtown Manhattan (NY), $32 in Boston, $31 in Chicago, $29.63 in Los Angeles and $25 in San Francisco.
Results showed the most popular activity for vacationers using public transit is sightseeing (54 percent), followed by dining out and nightlife (40 percent), shopping (40 percent), travel to and from the airport (30 percent) and travel to and from place of lodging (30 percent).
Travelers who originate from large metropolitan areas are more likely to take advantage of their destination city's local transit system. Sixty-four percent of those persons traveling to a city on their summer vacation who plan to use transit are from large urban areas; 18 percent are from medium-sized metro areas, and eight percent are from smaller cities.