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DART News Release

Media Relations Contact:
Donna Aggazio or Amy Coggin
American Public Transportation Association (APTA)

July 17, 2002

Study Proves Increasing Public Transportation Is the Best -- and possibly only -- Non-Regulatory Strategy for Major Environmental and Energy Gains

Use of Public Transportation by One in Ten Americans Would Lead to Cleaner Air and Reduce U.S. Oil Dependency by 40 Percent

WASHINGTON, DC (July 17, 2002) - A new independent study by three top economists demonstrates that increasing public transportation use is the most effective, and possibly the only way to improve air quality and reduce energy consumption without imposing new taxes, government mandates or regulations.

Based on the findings of the new national study, energy and environmental savings have been calculated for more than a dozen major metropolitan areas in the United States.

"Conserving Energy and Preserving the Environment: The Role of Public Transportation," released today in Washington, DC, concludes that public transportation generates 95 percent less carbon monoxide (CO), 92 percent less in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and about half as much carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx), per passenger mile, as private vehicles.

The report was authored by: Dr. Robert J. Shapiro, Managing Director of Sonecon, LLC, and non-resident Fellow of the Brookings Institution and the Progressive Policy Institute, Dr. Kevin A. Hassett, Resident Scholar of the American Enterprise Institute; and Dr. Frank S. Arnold, President of Applied Microeconomics, Inc.

In energy conservation, the study shows that public transportation already saves more than 855 million gallons of gasoline or 45 million barrels of oil a year. This number is equivalent to the energy used to heat, cool and operate one-fourth of all American homes annually, or half the energy used to manufacture all computers and electronic equipment in America annually.

"We all know that a rail car or bus carrying 40 people is far more efficient than a car moving just one person. What people may not realize is exactly how much energy is being saved, and how these savings add up to millions of barrels of oil conserved and millions of tons of harmful emissions avoided each year," said Dr. Robert J. Shapiro, co-author of the study. "Increased use of public transportation is an important answer to two national challenges -- greater energy independence and a cleaner environment -- that our nation has been grappling with for decades."

The study also shows that if one in ten Americans used public transportation regularly, U.S. reliance on foreign oil could be cut by more than 40 percent. This is nearly equivalent to the amount of oil we import from Saudi Arabia every year. Environmental benefits would also be significant. Without any new government mandates, regulations or taxes, the United States would be able to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 25 percent of the standard set under the Kyoto Agreement.

Among the study's other major findings:

  • Even small increases in transit usage would help many of the 16 major U.S. cities, which currently fail to meet EPA air-quality standards for CO or smog, improve air quality.
  • For every passenger mile traveled, public transportation is twice as fuel efficient as private automobiles, sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and light trucks.
  • If one in seven Americans used public transportation for their daily travel needs, they would help prevent global warming in the United States by cutting CO2 by the equivalent of nearly 20 percent of the CO2 emitted from fuel burned for residential uses and more than 20 percent of all CO2 emitted by commercial enterprises.
  • If one in five Americans used public transportation daily, it would help reduce CO pollution by more than all the CO emitted from the entire chemical manufacturing industry and all metal processing plants in the United States.
"This study clearly shows that more energy is used getting people from place to place than in producing all goods or running all the homes in America," said William W. Millar, President of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the non-profit organization that commissioned the study. "We can continue to debate domestic oil exploration, emissions requirements, and the stability of foreign sources of energy, but any serious plan to reduce oil dependency and clean up the air must include ways to increase public transportation use. This is simply our country's greatest opportunity to conserve energy and improve the environment."

"Increasing the use of public transportation needs to be an essential element of our national energy and environmental policies," said Millar. "If we don't make transit a national priority by increasing investment, America's enduring economic and environmental health will be in jeopardy."

Noting that the report is especially timely because of today's designation as a "Code Red" day, Washington Metro Chief Executive Officer Richard A. White said, "Our Washington Metro region is on the verge of reclassification by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a "severe non-attainment area" for air quality. Unless the region can show it can meet federally imposed air quality standards, construction of new transportation projects will be postponed. I believe fervently that the Metro system offers our region the most immediate opportunity to improve our air quality. If we get can get more people out of their cars and onto the Metro system, we will notice a marked improvement in the region's air quality."

To view a full copy of the study* please visit or

* This file can be viewed and printed using Adobe's free Acrobat Reader. The free Acrobat Reader may be obtained at the following Internet location:

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