Use Public Transportation to Reduce Air Pollution Use Public Transportation to Reduce Air Pollution

Facts and figures don't lie -- our transportation needs produce 30% of all carbon dioxide gas emissions. One sure way to cure this is through the use of public transportation. Studies by the American Public Transportation Authority (APTA) show that public transportation produces 95% less carbon monoxide and nearly 50% less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide per passenger mile than a private vehicle does. This article discusses public transportation and how it affects the environment. Statistics and guidelines will be included, and you will have an overall view of just how good an idea public transportation really is.

Some History About Public Transportation

In the year 2002, 9.4 billion people took trips on public transit. That sounds like a lot, but consider that in 1946, the number was 23.4 billion. hat is quite a difference, but we also need to take into consideration that in 1946, the population was no where near what it is today.

What brought about this decline? Many blame it on The Highway Lobby -- the big oil, car manufacturing, tire and cement industry. Although you don't hear much about it today, the damage has been done. In the name of profit, America was turned into huge networks of highways and freeways that carry millions of people each day. Few know that General Motors bought up the trolley industry in 28 cities, tore up the tracks, and then lobbied legislators to build more highways. GM, along with its oil and tire conspirators, was indicted for 28 crimes, and was convicted in the Federal Court in Chicago in the Forties. The impact of these actions haunts us today.

Facts of American Transportation

* Currently, there are 14 million Americans that utilize public transportation.
* It is 79% safer to take a bus than to drive your own vehicle.
* 855 million gallons of gas are saved each year through the use of public transportation.
* 40% of the US dependency on foreign oil would cease if 1 in 10 Americans took the bus.
* Just 1 in 5 Americans using public transportation daily would decrease the amount of carbon monoxide emissions at a rate greater than all emissions produced by chemical manufacturing and metal processing industries.

What Type of Public Transportation is the Most Efficient?

The train systems are probably the most efficient, because they carry a higher number of passengers and use less fuel than buses. Buses, especially bio-diesels, are probably the best form of transportation that is friendly to the environment. Also considered are ferries, taxis and water transport. Public transportation is often regulated as a common carrier and is set up to provide scheduled service on fixed routes on a first come first served basis, although you can often buy a bus pass good for any number of days. The majority of people that use these services are usually traveling in a local area or region between their homes and places of employment, shopping, or schools.

A promising alternative today is bus rapid transit (BRT). Extra long buses are used, and they travel in dedicated lanes. Breakthrough Technologies Institute found in a study in 2006 that BRT systems could eliminate more than 650,000 tons of carbon dioxide gases over a 20 year period.

What are Other Advances in Public Transportation?

Public transportation authorities are working hard today to make the public more aware of how useful, efficient and less damaging to the environment public transportation is. New innovation abounds, with such amenities as WiFi for the business traveler, a smart card system to deal with the bother of tickets, and more comfortable seats for passengers. Imagine a commute to work that takes an hour to drive in a personal vehicle. Compare that with the pleasure of being able to work or catch up on the newspaper while traveling in comfort. The advantages are obvious.

Good News on Public Transportation

In 2006, APTA reported that there were 10 billion trips on public transport. This is the highest number of trips in 49 years. In the last decade, the number of trips has surpassed the growth of population and the number of vehicle miles traveled on public highways. More and more Americans are riding public transit to get to destinations such as work, school and shopping. People are beginning to realize the benefits of public transportation, and are becoming aware that it has much less impact on the environment.

The time has come for people to realize that public transportation is the way to go in the future. Awareness is rising, and the industry is taking it to heart. In bygone years, there was a slogan: "Take the bus, and leave the driving to us!" It appears that this is now becoming more of a reality. Think about that when you plan your next outing.

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.

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