The Many Ways Public Transit Protects our Environment

Who: Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) and transit agencies around the world
What: Protecting our planet by offering environmentally-friendly transportation
When: Every day
Where: Throughout Pinellas County and to Tampa
Why: To provide affordable and environmentally friendly transportation options

Hands on a globeDid you know that without public transportation Americans would lose $21 billion dollars a year due added traffic congestion? That’s just one of many amazing benefits that public transit provides for our society. Other benefits, detailed on the Public Transportation Benefits page of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) website ( include:

  • From 1995 through 2012, public transportation ridership increased by 34%—a growth rate higher than the 17% increase in U.S. population and higher than the 22% growth in the use of the nation’s highways.
  • 74% of funding for public transit is spent creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs.
  • Americans living in areas served by public transportation save 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel annually in congestion reduction alone.
  • Every dollar communities invest in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns.
  • Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates 36,000 jobs.
  • The average household spends 16 cents of every dollar on transportation, and 94% of that goes to buying, maintaining, and operating cars, the largest expenditure after housing.
  • Households that are likely to use public transportation on a given day save more than $9,700 every year.

Here in the Pinellas County, which offers far fewer transit options than other cities of similar population around the country, transit ridership has jumped 19% since 2008. During that same period, PSTA has cut service and raised fares- two factors that typically reduce transit ridership.  In Pinellas, however, ridership continues at all-time record highs. In fact, more than 14.45 million rides taken on PSTA last year.

Along with cutting demand for foreign oil, reducing pollution and offering affordable transportation options, PSTA protects our environment in many other ways such as:

PSTA Recycles:

  • Engine Coolant
  • Waste oil
  • Sludge from parts cleaners
  • Metal from used and unserviceable vehicle parts
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • Water in the PSTA bus washing facility
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Aluminum
  • Plastics
  • Ink and toner cartridges

PSTA also operates 40 fuel-efficient, diesel-electric hybrid buses (out of a fleet of 195 full sized buses) that average a 32% improvement in fuel economy over standard diesel models. The fuel savings for these environmentally friendly vehicles depends upon the route on which a bus operates.  Lower speed routes with many stops, such as Gulf Blvd., allow for the greatest use of the electric component of the diesel-electric technology and leads to the greatest fuel economy. PSTA is pleased to announce that the agency has eight more diesel-electric hybrid SmartBuses on order for 2014.

To learn more about using PSTA, visit and to learn more about the future of public transit in Pinellas County and to learn about the Greenlight Pinellas Plan, visit



Filed under Behind the Scenes, Press Releases, Sustainability, Transit Data

2 responses to “The Many Ways Public Transit Protects our Environment

  1. JohnB

    “From 1995 through 2012, public transportation ridership increased by 34%—a growth rate higher than the 17% increase in U.S. population and higher than the 22% growth in the use of the nation’s highways.”

    So what’s the real story here? First, as academics David King, Michael Manville, and Michael Smart pointed out in an op-ed in the Washington Post 10 days later, although total transit trips have risen since their nadir in 1972, so has population. Even just between 2008 and 2012 they pointed out, average transit trips per capita have declined from 35 to 34. And transit consultant Thomas Rubin noted that since 1956, the population has increased by 85%. So if 2013’s 10.65 billion trips now equal those of 1956, the annual average trips per capita has shrunk by nearly half, from 62.5 to 34.

    But it gets worse. Cato’s Randal O’Toole looked into the 2013 transit trip numbers and found that the increase in transit trips in New York City was 123 million. But the total national increase, as reported by APTA, was just 115 million. In other words, apart from New York City, there was no increase at all, on average, across the country. APTA quickly responded that some other individual cities did have increases, but in fact most experienced decreases.

    And there’s more, undercutting the idea that a “fundamental shift in how people are moving about” is taking place. In a March 20th piece at, demographer Wendell Cox analyzed commuting data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Here are the actual increases and decreases in daily one-way commuting trips from 2007 to 2012:

    Drive alone: +1,506,000
    Work at home (including telecommuting): +467,000
    Transit: +253,000
    Carpool: -812,000
    Other: +189,000
    In 42 of the 52 major urban areas, the increase in working at home exceeded the increase (if any) in transit use.

  2. JohnB

    “The Many Ways Public Transit Protects our Environment” implies that an electric train using Duke Energy’s electrical power is going to somehow protect our environment.

    Here is what Duke Energy says on their site: “Coal is America’s most abundant energy resource, and most of the electricity generated in the United States comes from coal-burning power plants. A coal-fired generating facility turns water into steam, which in turn drives turbine generators to produce electricity.”
    And about their Oil/Gas-fired plants: “Steam plants primarily burn oil in a boiler to create steam, which then turns a turbine and generator to create electricity. They are similar in construction to coal-fired facilities.”

    “The following pollutants are provided by DUKE-AREVA-ADAGE in their application for permit to the Department of Environmental Protection for a similar type of plant in Florida.
    247 tons per year – particulate matter
    239 tons per year – particulate matter 10
    233 tons per year – particulate matter 2.5
    249 tons per year – NOx (nitrogen oxides)
    246 tons per year – SO2 (sulfur dioxide)
    248 tons per year – CO (carbon monoxide)
    40 tons per year – H2SO4 – (sulfuric acid mist)
    63 tons per year – VOC (volatile organic compounds)
    29 tons per year – F (fluorides)”

    Duke has donated $50,000 to the “Friends Of Greenlight” coalition of realtors, developers, contractors. One has to wonder how much revenue they will receive from the electric train – certainly millions of dollars/year.

    No one has even mentioned the the spiderweb of electrical power lines required to deliver the electricity to the train, which will be very unsightly on our streets.

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