Summary

In the United States, emissions from mobile sources represent about one-third of the total greenhouse gas emissions and 50 percent of all air pollution. Air pollution claims 70,000 lives a year, more than the 42,000 killed yearly in traffic crashes. One of the most significant actions that household members can take to reduce air pollution and their carbon footprint is to use public transportation. The study to be released shows that an individual switching his or her commute to public transportation can reduce their daily carbon dioxide emissions by 20 pounds— more than 4,800 pounds a year. When compared to other household actions, taking public transportation can be more than ten times more effective at reducing a person’s carbon footprint.

On September 26, 2007, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) held a Congressional briefing to discuss the newly released study entitled Public Transportation’s Contribution to U.S. Greenhouse Gas Reduction. The study, conducted by SAIC, examines the effect of public transportation on carbon dioxide emissions. It aims to answer the questions: how much net carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) is public transportation saving in the United States with the current level of transit services being offered? What is the significance of the emissions savings from transit at a household level and what can households do to save additional CO2? If public transportation services are expanded and ridership is increased, how much additional CO2 savings are possible? What are the key elements of consideration for a national climate strategy that embraces public transportation? This briefing addressed these questions as well as looked at the opportunities for successful policies at the local, state, and federal levels.