Breathing fresh air, driving safely, being physically active, and avoiding excessive stress are a few of the well-known aspects of a healthy lifestyle. And using transit supports all of them. In fact, The Victoria Policy Institute and The American Public Transportation Association recently explored the health impacts of transit. Here’s a look at the findings:
Public transportation users are more active.
Did you know that riding the bus provides you an opportunity for a more active lifestyle? Individuals who use public transportation get more than three times the amount of physical activity per day of those who don’t (approximately 19 minutes, rather than six minutes) by walking to stops and final destinations. The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends 22 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, per day (or 150 minutes per week). Getting active helps lower the risk for many serious diseases, such as heart and vascular diseases, strokes, diabetes, hypertensive diseases, osteoporosis, and even depression.
Buses are safer that individual vehicles.
Bus-related accidents have one-twentieth the passenger fatality rates of automobile travel. Car accidents are responsible for approximately 40,000 deaths (and many more injuries) per year, making them one of the largest causes of death for people aged 1-44. Traveling on public transit significantly diminishes this threat. Moreover, areas with high public transportation movement tend to have better overall security and reduced crime rates.
Riding public transportation reduces stress.
Public transportation improves access to education and employment, which in turn leads to better long-term economic opportunities. In fact, 12 percent of transit riders are traveling to schools and almost 80 percent of Rapid riders are going to work. It also provides access to social and recreational activities, allowing individuals to participate in events they otherwise couldn’t. But one benefit that’s often overlooked is the community cohesion developed through positive interactions between neighbors due to getting on board.
Buses cut down on pollution to keep air cleaner.
Pollution is estimated to cause as many deaths per year as traffic accidents. However, buses (especially newer diesel and hybrid electric vehicles) produce less pollution than cars per passenger mile by utilizing advanced technologies and higher standards. In fact, from 1992-2009, buses using alternative fuels (such as natural gas) jumped from 2 to 30 percent and electric rail transit increased from 29 to 34 percent of passenger miles.
Riding public transportation keeps money in your pocket.
“Affordable transportation” generally means that an individual’s total travel expenses make up less than 20 percent of their household finances. Car payments, gas prices and parking can be a major budget drain, but public transportation lessens those financial burdens by alleviating the need to purchase and operate individual vehicles (saving a household around $9,394 annually) and helping riders avoid parking fees. This supports public health by leaving riders with more money for better living arrangements, healthy food, and medical services.
Public transportation provides access to essential needs later in life.
A survey of Americans aged 65 and older found that non-drivers take 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59 percent fewer shopping trips and restaurant visits, and 65 percent fewer trips for social, family, and religious activities than those using an individual vehicle. Public transportation is a way for these non-drivers (particularly seniors and persons with disabilities) to gain access to important services and activities that improve public health.
Changing your lifestyle is as easy as getting on board. You can find the full report here.
How has public transportation improved your well-being?