Public transportation makes for healthier communities—and healthier communities have greater workforce productivity, reduced healthcare costs, and better overall quality of living.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends expanding public transportation because its benefits to public health are consistently measurable.
Public transportation supports health in many ways:
- Access to Healthcare— An estimated 3.6 million Americans annually miss medical appointments or delay care because of transportation issues. Increased access to public transportation can help patients reach medical care, reduce the need for emergency room visits, and improve outcomes. Increased public transportation will also help dent the estimated $150 billion cost to our economy of missed healthcare appointments.
Expanded public transportation will especially help more vulnerable Americans—including people with low incomes, minorities, and the elderly—who disproportionately suffer from healthcare complications because of lack of transportation.
- Fewer Accidents and Injuries—Public transportation makes traveling safer—and not just for riders. Traveling by public transportation is 10x safer per mile than traveling by automobile. You can reduce your chances of being in an accident by 90% if you ride public transportation rather than driving. The CDC specifically recommends policymakers consider adopting incentives to get people out of cars and onto public transit as a way to reduce injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents. Fewer individual vehicles on the road equals less traffic congestion, and that makes the roads safer for everyone using them.
- More Active Living—Public transportation encourages healthier lifestyle choices. More than two-thirds of people who use public transportation walk to their stop or station. Public transit riders are less likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions related to inactivity. People who commute by public transportation also experience less health-damaging stress than those who commute by car.
- Cleaner Air and Water—Air pollutants from transportation are tied to numerous illnesses, including heart disease and asthma. Public transportation helps lower air and water pollution by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Public transportation is more efficient, moving more people more miles with fewer emissions. All told, investments in public transportation reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by an estimated 37 million metric tons annually. In addition, many transit systems use cleaner or renewable energy sources.
You can help spread the word about the benefits of public transportation by sharing its positive impact on individual and community health. Everyone benefits from increased roadway safety and cleaner air and water—even if they don’t use public transit.