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Let’s Celebrate Earth Day all Month Long: Public Transit Use is Highest its Been in 57 Years

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Source: Earth Day

Public transit use is the highest it’s been in 57 years, according to a report by the American Public Transportation Association. In 2013, approximately 10.7 billion trips were taken by Americans on public transit – a 37.2% increase from 1995. The report also found that the number of miles driven per person has decreased in 46 states since 2007, indicating that Americans really are driving less. As far as the researchers are concerned, there are a few factors that could be the underlying causes of the rise in public transit use. Rising gas prices were thought to be of significant impact, although public transit use still increased from 2008 to 2013, while gas prices fell. Another factor that may have contributed to the rise in public transit use was the U.S. economy coming back from the recession of 2007-2008.

While the economic recovery in some cities may be responsible for increased public transit use, researchers also pointed out that the inverse is true as well – cities that invest in public transit will not only see an increase in public transit use but also increase in employment, since people may gain access to more employment opportunities when public transit is improved.

Luckily, the increase in use of public transit will also lead to improvements in health. Many studies have shown a direct link between air pollution – largely contributed to by traffic pollution from automobiles – and heart damage, birth defects, and kidney damage, especially as the air pollution problem has become so extreme in places like Beijing. One thing seems certain though, and that is when cities invest more in public transit, public transit use increases.