the value of public transportation: white paper

Omaha by Design has commissioned a white paper on topics stemming from recommendations outlined in the Environmental Element, the section of the City of Omaha’s master plan that lays out a new environmental vision for the community.

The Value of Public Transportation was prepared for Omaha by Design by Ji-Hyung Park under the supervision of Dr. Angela Eikenberry from the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s School of Public Administration. It examines the positive impact of public transportation on economic development, fiscal and environmental sustainability, healthcare, and quality of life and choice. The report also identifies barriers to increasing public ridership.

Below are a few examples the report cites from existing research studies.

  • On jobs – $1 million spent on public transit typically generates 30 to 60 jobs compared to road-only projects that generate 7.8 jobs per $1 million spent.
  • On property values – Proximity to public transit does lead to higher home values and rents in many cases.
  • On state and local revenues and taxable base – On average, a typical state or local government in the United States could realize a four to 16 percent gain in revenues due to the increases in income and employment generated by investments in transit.
  • On parking costs – Encouraging transit can save businesses and cities money in building and operating costs.
  • On physical and mental health – The extra walking related to transit use has been estimated at a lifetime savings of $5,500 per person in 2007 dollars. When accounting for decreases in quality of life such as disabilities related to obesity, the estimated savings are even higher.
  • On safety – According to National Safety Council data, riding the bus is 170 times safer than automobile travel.
  • On reduced energy consumption – Public transportation saves more than 855 million gallons of gasoline a year, or 45 million barrels of oil. These savings equal about one month’s oil imports from Saudi Arabia and three months of the energy that Americans use to heat, cool and operate their homes, or half the energy used to manufacture all computers and electronic equipment in America.
  • On reduced air pollution – Reducing the daily use of one low occupancy vehicle and using public transit can reduce a household’s carbon footprint between 25 and 30%.
  • On quality of life – By 2020, 40% of the U.S. population will be older adults, and many will be unable to drive. One-fourth of today’s 75+ age group does not drive. Public transportation options represent a lifeline for older adults, linking them with family, friends and a changing society.
  • On travel choice – Young people tend to rely on public transportation more due to increased oil prices, new licensing laws, improved technology, and changes in values in preferences.

For more information or to request printed copies, contact Omaha by Design at 402.934.7055.