Public Transit Could Save You Thousands

This year's leap in retail gasoline prices could prompt more people to consider public transit alternatives. And that could add up to far more cost savings than you might think. Laurie Johnson has more.

In a typical month, about 150 new members sign up for Houston's Commute Solutions carpool program. But from the end of March to the end of April, that number doubled.

And more people may be heading to the bus stops as an alternative as well.

Matill Williams, with the American Public Transportation Association, says the rise in gas prices marks the largest savings for public transit riders in three years.

"If someone is traveling by public transportation and they're living with one less car in their household, they can save over an average over about $10,000 a year just by taking public transportation. And that's broken down based on not only the high fuel costs, but also what people don't tend to of and that is the high cost of owning a car."

Of course, here in Houston people are reluctant to give up a vehicle altogether. It's a sprawling region and sometimes buses and rail just don't go to the places we need to get to. But Williams says commuters should think in what he calls multi-modal terms.

"Maybe the day when I don't have to pick up the kid, or maybe the day when I don't have to go to the grocery store, there might be a couple of days a week when I could take public transportation. There might a combination of...maybe I could take public transportation and then maybe my spouse or significant other can pick me up from the bus station or the train station."

If you're curious how much you could save by taking transit, METRO offers a commute calculator on their website.

I put my own commute details in and found I could save as much as $132 a month by taking the bus.

 

 

KUHF contributes to transportationnation.org, a public radio reporting project. "Transportation Nation combines the work of public radio newsrooms and their listeners as the way we build, rebuild, and get around the nation changes."

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...