Transit Riders’ Savings Exceed Thousands Per Year!

This message is of course about out of pocket savings, which really is all we can make a market based decision on. If the Government actually allowed or made us pay the full price of transportation these numbers and savings would be even higher, but the overall cost of transportation would alsot be slightly higher. Without further ado, here is APTA’s study and results.

Despite Lower Gas Prices Public Transit Riders Still Reap Big Savings

 Individuals can save $807 this month alone by switching to public transit for their daily commute

Washington, D.C. ‚Äď Even with lower gas prices public transportation still offers individuals a way to save hundreds of dollars each month.¬† According to the American Public Transportation Association‚Äôs (APTA) December¬†¬†Transit Savings Report, individuals who ride public transportation instead of driving can save, on average, $807 dollars this month, and $9,69 annually.¬†¬† These savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the December 20, 2011 average national gas price ($3.21 per gallon- reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate.

Currently gas prices are $.15 a gallon less than last month, but still $.23 higher than this time last year. Proving riding public transit is a smart way to lower transportation costs.

APTA releases this monthly Transit Savings Report to examine how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car.

The national average for a monthly unreserved parking space in a downtown business district is $155.22, according to the2011 Colliers International Parking Rate Study.  Over the course of a year, parking costs for a vehicle can amount to an average of $1,863.

The top 20 cities with the highest transit ridership are ranked in order of their transit savings based on the purchase of a monthly public transit pass and factoring in local gas prices for December 20, 2011 and the local monthly unreserved parking rate.*

 

  ¬†City ¬†Monthly ¬†Annual
 1  New York  $1,198  $14,375
 2  Boston  $1,106  $13,272
 3  San Francisco  $1,075  $12,902
 4  Seattle  $979  $11,749
5 Philadelphia $955 $11,457
6 Chicago $945 $11,343
 7  Honolulu  $937  $11,242
 8  Los Angeles  $880  $10,554
 9  Minneapolis $859  $10,308
 10  San Diego  $851  $10,215
 11  Portland  $842  $10,099
 12  Denver  $838  $10,053
 13  Washington, DC  $836  $10,031
14 Baltimore $817 $9,810
 15  Cleveland  $802  $9, 628
 16  Miami  $780  $9,355
 17  Atlanta  $762  $9,140
 18  Dallas  $759  $9,109
 19  Pittsburgh  $760  $9,120
 20  Las Vegas  $755  $9,064

*Based on gasoline prices as reported by AAA on 12/20/11.

Methodology

APTA calculates the average cost of taking public transit by determining the average monthly transit pass of local public transit agencies across the country.  This information is based on the annual APTA fare collection survey and is weighted based on ridership (unlinked passenger trips).  The assumption is that a person making a switch to public transportation would likely purchase an unlimited pass on the local transit agency, typically available on a monthly basis.

APTA then compares the average monthly transit fare to the average cost of driving.  The cost of driving is calculated using the 2011 AAA average cost of driving formula.  AAA cost of driving formula is based on variable costs and fixed costs.  The variable costs include the cost of gas, maintenance and tires.  The fixed costs include insurance, license registration, depreciation and finance charges.  The comparison also uses the average mileage of a mid-size auto at 23.4 miles per gallon and the price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline as recorded by AAA on December 20, 2011 at $3.21 per gallon.  The analysis also assumes that a person will drive an average of 15,000 miles per year.  The savings assume a person in two-person household lives with one less car.

In determining the cost of parking, APTA uses the data from the 2011 Colliers International Parking Rate Study for monthly unreserved parking rates for the United States.

To calculate your individual savings with or without car ownership, go to www.publictransportation.org.

# # #

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of more than 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services, and high-speed rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA member systems.

It does however make me wonder, if someone is saving that much with transit usage, how much could someone save with a more intelligent and strategically located lifestyle that allows walking or biking to work? How much healthier and stronger would Americans be if they weren’t stranded in the suburbs and tied to their cars?

Ballard to Bellevue to Redmond to Seattle to Ballard, Done!

A couple weeks ago Ro and I made a trip to check out the B-Line. The B-Line is the latest BRT type route between Bellevue to Redmond on the east side of Lake Washington (I really don’t want to call it east Seattle, because it isn’t anything like Seattle). We left early in the day boarding the #44 at Ballard & Market Street.

#44, in Diesel Operation (Usually it runs a Trolley Bus)

#44, in Diesel Operation (Usually it runs a Trolley Bus)

The #271 can be seen hiding behind the #49.

The #271 can be seen hiding behind the #49.

From there we rode to the University District and transferred there to the #271.

As we rode the #271 I saw an activity, that when I drove would cause me serious rage and concern over safety. But here on the bus, it was almost endearing to see a fellow rider making good use of their bus riding time. A young lady sat politely in her chair doing some of that fancy make up doing that young ladies do.

An appropriate time to put on makeup.

An appropriate time to put on makeup.

Once we arrived in Bellevue we spent some time to get a bite at Chantanee Thai Restaurant and Bar. After a good meal and some pretty snappy drinks, we headed over to the Bellevue Transit Center to board one of the new B-Line Buses. Behold, before us stood Chad (aka punkrawker of punkrawker4783 videos)! We talked for a bit about the new route. He told me about how part of the line was super busy while the other part was moderately so. After a few minute Ro and I left Chad to go his way and we were off on our way.

B-Line to Redmond

B-Line to Redmond

We boarded the next bus, when it showed as ready. They sit there at the transit center, off with a driver usually standing nearby in preparation for departure. On this day, since it wasn’t a weekday, the frequency was only 15 minutes. This made it really not like BRT. But I wasn’t expecting too much, as BRT is rarely setup the way it is talked about by advocates.

B-Line, Side Shot

B-Line, Side Shot

B-Line to Redmond

B-Line to Redmond

Once aboard we took our seats and enjoyed our departure. We pulled out onto the main street, into traffic, with barely a dedicated lane in site. As expected I thought to myself. But it wasn’t bad. The ride was smooth, as far as buses go, and vastly superior to the ride quality of buses that actually travel most King County Metro Routes. Part of this was the roadway, which is newer than most of the roads in Seattle proper, and part of it was the bus that has better suspension and ride quality.

On our ride we also were entertained by some of the colorful characters of the east side. One guy had a strange cat hat thing on with a girl who, well, simply had odd attire on altogether. But to each their own, it brought a chuckle and props for being different!

Cat Hat

Cat Hat

The east side, I will admit, is a beautiful area with a lot of nature. It is however a massive lifeless suburban sprawl. Everyone has their ticky tacky houses and with cookie cutter restaurants with barely a unique characteristics to the whole place. The only way to tell you’re in the north west is by the trees and natural surroundings here and there, plus the continual spurts of rain every hour or so. Other than that, you might as well be in Texas. The east side, with almost every house, apartment, and building carries an almost triumphant lack of culture and art. But again, this is something I was prepared for. Want art, go downtown to Seattle. Want some grass that you can mow, go to the east side.

The stops along the way, that are dedicated to the B-Line, are pretty neat. They’re just like the A-Line stops for the most part. With the rich red color and simple design.

B-Line Bus Stop

B-Line Bus Stop

I did grab one shot that I thought was just so stereotypical of the east side. The irreverent and disrespectful by their mere existence, H2 Hummer. Not the real Humvee, but no the superficial and fake H2. The thing that only pretends to be a real truck and is by no means even related to a military vehicle in any way other than mockery. The marketing on this sure worked for those of lesser income that have issues with their big truckness of manhood.

East Side Superficialness in Full Effect

East Side Superficialness in Full Effect

When we did get into the small town of Redmond the bus pulled up to the Redmond Transit Center. There we walked to the area that literally has the MOST life of the entire area. The local skate park. Of course, there were some kids there breaking the law while having fun riding their bikes. But as with the respect among young people, everyone was honorably taking their turns at runs on the park. Bicyclists, skooter riders, and skaters alike. It was very chill. Several of the kids were pretty bad ass on those bikes too. I’d hate to see an officer have to enforce the law and bust those kids of biking on the skate park. Something seriously should be done to change those laws – these parks should be available to skaters, skooters, inline skaters, bicyclists, or whatever non-powered fun ridable things someone wants to ride on it.

Here’s a few shots of the dudes riding bikes that were tearing it up good.

Flying High

Flying High

…and another…

Airborne Again

Airborne Again

After a while watching, we grabbed some food and then headed off to the heart of Redmond (which is about 4 square blocks of more ticky tacky, but I won’t go into that). On the way back I grabbed a few more shots of the buses serving the Redmond Transit Center.

Redmond Transit Center - B-Line Buses Queued Up

Redmond Transit Center - B-Line Buses Queued Up

#248 Redmond

#248 Redmond

Bus Stop Sign

Bus Stop Sign

After all that riding, it was time to head back to the cultural heart of this metropolitan area. So we boarded the next #545 bound for Seattle!

Once downtown, with a breath of life back in our souls, we then transferred and rode the trusty #18 back to Ballard.

Ride Complete! ūüôā Cheers!

The Rides I’m Looking Forward To… Top 10

There are numerous transit systems that are building out, even in spite of this recession/depression era we exist in. Overall, things are looking bad for transport, transport freedom, and many of these things. But also the winds of change, the attitudes of people, and the human characteristics that we have are starting to come forth and change this outlook!

These rides I’m looking forward to are on some of the systems that will slowly begin to change things for the better. That will help us move forward toward complete streets and better livability! If you know of others I’ve missed, please let me know! ¬†ūüôā

NOTE: These aren’t particularly in any order of priority, just on the list. The biggest element of these is that they are being built, are already funded, and clearly have a completion in sight or are already done!

  1. Portland Streetcar – East Side Loop.
  2. Portland Milwaukee Light Rail & Transit Only Bridge Crossing.
  3. Seattle Sound Transit Link Light Rail University Extension.
  4. Seattle First Hill Streetcar (and finally being able to enter that city in a classy way via the renovated King Street Station + Streetcar to the coolest place in the city (Cap Hill, etc)).
  5. New Orleans Streetcar Extension from Union Station to Canal Street Streetcar.
  6. San Diego Streetcar/Light Rail.
  7. High Speed Rail in Europe or England – to anywhere, I don’t mind which one. ūüôā
  8. Little Rock Arkansas Streetcar – I have a fascination with this streetcar, since it is in such a red state with an oddly small city/downtown.
  9. Paris Light Rail & Subway – Nuff’ Said.
  10. TBD – I know there is something out there that I need to put higher on my priority list, but am keeping it open for now. Any suggestions?

BRT Hittin’ The Road

Looks like some of the sweet new buses are rolling between Bellevue and Redmond. This means I’ll have to head over to the east side and check out this line. It looks like, at least to me, it’ll be a lot more interesting than the A-line route.

The BRT Blog reports “B-Line Bus Sightings Begin“.

Lunch Grub and a Wondering Trip

I decided to take a trip north from downtown today via the #358. ¬†I then determined I could get some lunch around the Aurora Transit Center. ¬†After that I’d board one of the SWIFT BRT Buses to check out how legit the BRT Service is to Everett. ¬†Once there I wasn’t sure what I’d do exactly, but figured I’d jump on the Sound Transit #510 Express back to downtown. ¬†Well, most of that plan went down without a hitch, however a bit got added on to it.

Android Arrival Times

Android Arrival Times

I checked the ETA of the #358 arrival with the¬†Android OneBusAway App written by Paul Watts via my HTC Evo (This is an amazing phone btw, if you’re in the market for a phone). ¬†At about ten minutes before the estimated arrival I walked out and crossed the streets of Denny and Aurora. ¬†It can usually take about 6-8 minutes because of the all the lights and cross walk nonsense at this intersection. ¬†I boarded the #358 at 11:03am headed north at Denny and Aurora (Hwy 99). ¬†The bus took no time to clear the lights there and merge onto Aurora (99). The #358 Route travels north from the International District (i.e. Chinatown) all the way up Aurora Avenue (Hwy 99) to the Aurora Village Shopping Center, where the Aurora Transit Center is.

Aurora Village Transit Center

Aurora Village Transit Center

The ride is an ok one, even though the scenery for the majority of the trip is just sprawlling highway retail and light industrial with residential shoved in here and there. Away from the highway no more than a block though everything is residential, light and medium. Mostly it is single occupancy housing. However in almost every direction it is unfortunately trashy looking. The highway itself is just beat up and the storefronts along the highway look almost 3rd worldish. I can’t really say I was surprised since most of America actually looks this way and more is beginning to. The middle class only has more of this to look forward to. With sprawl at the intensity it is built out in the United States the more drain it will have on the middle class, pushing them either farther down into poverty or locking them into the mediocrity of it all.

The one hold out along the entire route is the Aurora Bridge across the waterway. ¬†The view is striking in every direction. ¬†When coming back into the city this way you can see the skyscrapers downtown peaking out of the hills. ¬†The rest of the trip really isn’t advised, unless you’re just up for exploring as I was today.

I made it to Aurora Village and had a¬†cheese steak¬†at Jersey Mike’s. ¬†After that I walked the couple hundred feet back to the Aurora Village Transit Center and boarded one of the SWIFT BRT Buses toward Everett. ¬†I noted a few specific things about the BRT Service.

The route map covers 17 miles, so it isn’t a short route.

SWIFT Route Map

SWIFT Route Map

When boarding, but before departure the first thing I noticed was the massive space consumed for the bike racks. ¬†There are three racks inside the bus. ¬†Only bikes can go on these, one can’t stand in the space or sit as they’re positioned in an awkward way.

The Awkward Bike Racks

The Awkward Bike Racks

The second thing I noticed was a minimal amount of seating. ¬†Compared to most of the 60′ buses there is almost 2x as much seating as on these BRT buses. ¬†I do understand though, these buses aren’t really oriented toward sitting, but instead they’re designed to quickly board and hustle you to your next stop. ¬†But this is the US, we’ve strewn everything all over the place, sprawling from one shoreline to the other. ¬†NOTHING is really close together in this country except in a few select cities and in a few select areas of those cities. ¬†We have built this nation from a position of logistical idiocy – which makes the fact that there are no seats for a 17 mile trip, that takes about 30 minutes, rather odd. ¬†Add to that an obesity rate for more than half the population, and you’re bound to have some poor fat person standing up, struggling not to fall over after a short period of time. ¬†But then again, I guess that’s why transit riders are often 2-3x more likely to be in good shape than automobile users. ¬†Anyway, I thought it odd that they have so few seats.

A better solution, than this type of bicycle rack would be to use hanging racks like on the light rail in Portland. ¬†Hanging bikes is a much better option than occupying space that otherwise people could use when there isn’t a bike.

The other thing I noticed was the odd configuration of the handicap area – which again consumes what would normally be about 6-8 seats or more – but I digress, I’m fully supportive of handicap access.

The entry and exit onto the vehicle was extremely smooth.  As one would expect, by paying before you board it makes getting on and off much quicker.  To make this even easier there are three large doors on the bus.

The Three Doors on the SWIFT Buses

The Three Doors on the SWIFT Buses

Overall the ride was very smooth.  Much better than the poor old beat up buses King County Metro uses for the #358 route.  Of course, these are really new buses.  Considering the not so great condition of a lot of the route these buses will most likely be just as clunky in 10-15 years.

SWIFT

SWIFT

On a somewhat less important note, I also observed that the SWIFT branding was really nice.  Especially compared to the dark and humdrum color schemes of King County Metro.  Their colors are rather depressing, but the SWIFT branding was lively and clean.  On that same theme Community Transit appears to be doing a great job keeping these vehicles clean, as the bus was spotless when I rode.

Last but not least, this route being about as long as the #358 route, took about 2/3 as long.  I think it was about 30 minutes for the 17 mile trip, which by any measurement is really quick along a 45 mph mixed corridor roadway.

After the ride I arrived at Everett and walked around the station and took some photos. ¬†I’ve included those below (more blog entry after the pictures too):

Sound Transit #510 from Seattle

Sound Transit #510 from Seattle

Everett Transit #13

Everett Transit #13

#510 Coming to the Transit Center for the South Bound Trip to Seattle

#510 Coming to the Transit Center for the South Bound Trip to Seattle

I-5 Crossing the Waterway into Seattle

I-5 Crossing the Waterway into Seattle

After the arrival on the SWIFT in Everett I didn’t stay around long, possibly a total of 9 minutes before a #510 south bound arrived. ¬†I boarded immediately and off to Seattle I went. ¬†The trip wasn’t too exciting, a little traffic close to the I-5 Biridge, but all else was calm and tranquil. ¬†The overall trip on the #510 is smoother than the #358 or SWIFT, the express bus moving along at 50-60 mph on Interstate makes for a much smoother ride than the old Aurora 99 Highway.

I arrived back downtown and did some work at Zeitgeist Coffee.  When done with the work I up and footed it around the area a bit and caught a lot of photographs.  Here are a few of the better ones.

 

Dragon

Dragon

Sounder

Sounder

Light Rail Sign

Light Rail Sign

Amtrak Cascades Departing for Portland

Amtrak Cascades Departing for Portland

Buses EVERYWHERE!!!

Buses EVERYWHERE!!!

Sound Transit #590 Heading to Tacoma

Sound Transit #590 Heading to Tacoma

King Street Station, Once the tallest in Seattle Looking up to Columbia Tower, Now the Tallest

King Street Station, Once the tallest in Seattle Looking up to Columbia Tower, Now the Tallest