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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

All Aboard!

Air Date: Week of January 12, 2007

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Buying a hybrid car might save you some money, but if you really want to pinch pennies, the best idea is to use public transportation. Living on Earth’s Ashley Ahearn reports.

Transcript

GELLERMAN: If you really want to save money and the environment, consider leaving the hybrid in the driveway altogether. A new study has some startling figures on just how much we’d save by taking public transportation. Here’s Living on Earth’s Ashley Ahearn.

AHEARN: The study was conducted by the consulting firm ICF International for the American Public Transportation Association. APTA’s William Millar says that even using conservative estimates, public transit use already saves the U.S. almost a billion and a half gallons of gas a year.

MILLAR: Well, that’s equal to about 90 percent of all the oil that we import every year from Kuwait, for example. It’s 18 times more than the oil we save by bio-diesel that we might use. Beyond that, it’s pretty clear that households that live near public transit save a lot of money. In fact, an average household where at least one worker uses public transit can save over $6,200 per year.

AHEARN: The study says that’s more than the average household spends on food. But Millar says the benefits of trains and buses to both families and the country are being lost amid all the talk about higher mileage cars and alternative fuels.

MILLAR: In the last federal energy bill there was virtually no mention of public transit. Now to solve our addiction to foreign oil we’re going to need to do many things. What we want to say is public transit needs to be part of that mix.

[SOUND OF CAPITOL HALL WAY]

AHEARN: Millar wants Congress to invest more in mass transit. But he says there are other ways to get more people on public transportation, like tinkering with the tax code. For example, he says, under current tax law an employer gets a bigger deduction by offering free parking for workers than she would by helping employees pay their subway or bus fare.

For Living On Earth, I’m Ashley Ahearn.

 

Links

“Public Transportation and Petroleum Savings in the U.S.: Reducing Our Dependence on Oil” prepared for the American Public Transportation System

American Public Transportation Association

 

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