Study: Public Transit Provides Significant and Diverse Benefits

A new Mineta Transportation Institute study finds significant, measurable net benefits from U.S. public transit services.

July 16, 2015, 8:00 AM PDT

By Todd Litman


Transit Oriented Development

Angel DiBilio / Shutterstock

A new report, The Benefits of Transit in the United States: A Review and Analysis of Benefit-Cost Studies [pdf] by Christopher E. Ferrell of the Mineta Transportation Institute, summarizes a review of economic evaluation studies that estimated benefit/cost ratios for U.S. public transit systems. It found that transit services provide significant, measurable net benefits in various operating environments:

  • Transit benefits often substantially exceed costs in rural and small urban areas—not just big cities.
  • Transit typically pays for itself in congestion relief benefits for mid- to large-sized urban areas. 
  • Jobs and economic stimulus are among the largest benefit categories of transit.
  • Transit improves health care access and outcomes while reducing costs.
  • Transit saves people money, with transit in larger urban areas benefiting more people.
  • Public transit saves lives, but conventional analysis methods tend to undervaluing the role transit plays in reducing accidents and their costs to society.

The study is an important contribution toward a comprehensive evaluation of public transit.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 in Mineta Transportation Institute

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