Want to save an average of $13,000 annually? Take transit.

Sept. 29, 2023
APTA’s latest "Transit Savings" report has determined transit users can save more than $1,100 per month following steep increases in auto costs and gas prices.

A mix of factors including steady transit fares, rising gas prices and increased auto costs mean transit users can save more than $13,000 versus driving annually, according to a report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

APTA’s “Transit Savings” report determined the calculated savings based on analysis of the cost of commuting using public transportation and those same trips using a person vehicle. Expenses factored into the savings calculations include vehicle ownership, vehicle operation, parking costs, as well as national and state average gasoline price per gallon as reported by AAA.

The report explains that a tight supply of microchips and inflation have led to an increase in new and used automobile prices. APTA found the average transaction price for a new car purchase increased more than 30 percent since 2019 and the average price for purchasing a used car rose 40 percent during the same time frame.

Another element feeding the savings of using transit is the increase in gasoline prices, which saw a significant surge in 2022. This spike is driven by a cut in oil production, the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in China that has led to an increase in demand for fuel and the ongoing war in Ukraine, which also impacts fuel supply.

These constraining factors are set against transit fares that have remained steady. APTA’s Fare Database shows monthly public transit fare prices have not increased since 2020.

Nationally, this means transit users can save $1,102 per month and $13,218 annually. APTA looked at the top 20 cities based on ridership and found transit users in San Francisco could save $1,403 per month and $16,837 annually. In Portland, transit users could save $1,192 per month and $14,298 annually. In Atlanta, transit users could save $1,026 per month and $12,306 annually.

APTA and public transportation agencies nationwide are encouraging individuals to try public transit, explaining it will not only offer savings but help conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions. The association says a 30 percent savings in carbon dioxide emissions can be realized by eliminating one car and taking public transportation instead of driving.

“As the rising cost of living continues to impact U.S. households, public transportation offers an economical and climate-friendly alternative to reduce daily expenses,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “By choosing to ride public transit, individuals can significantly cut down on their monthly transportation expenses. Whether it’s commuting to work, running errands or keeping appointments, public transit is a practical and budget-friendly choice.”

APTA's "Transit Savings" report can be viewed through this link. 

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.