Reduce the Costs of Traffic Congestion by using Metro

Jul 13, 2009 by Lisa Newton

Just released this week, the Texas Transportation Institute’s Annual Mobility Report concludes that:

“Travelers spent one hour less stuck in traffic in 2007 than they did the year before and wasted one gallon less gasoline than the year before. The differences are small, but they represent a rare break in near-constant growth in traffic over 25 years.” Source: Texas Transportation Institute.

To get a better idea of the numbers, let’s take a look at the chart below:

National Congestion Measures, 1982-2007

Also gleamed from this study:

Congestion wastes a massive amount of time, fuel and money

  • 2.8 billion gallons of wasted fuel (enough to fill 370,000 18-wheeler fuel delivery trucks –bumper-to-bumper from Houston to Boston to Los Angeles)
  • 4.2 billion hours of extra time (enough to listen to War and Peace being read 160 million times through your car stereo)
  • $87.2 billion of delay and fuel costs (The negative effect of uncertain or longer delivery times, missed meetings, business relocations and other congestion results are not included)

Congestion is highest when People make trips during Peak Periods

They didn’t coin the term “Rush Hour” without a good reason. Makes sense that the more people decide to do things at the same time, the more it’s going to be crowded:

  • In 2007, the yearly holdup due to congestion for the average peak-period traveler was 36 hours—almost a week of vacation. That is an increase of 14 hours from 1982.
  • The added cost value for the delay and wasted fuel was almost $760 per traveler in 2007, compared to an inflation-adjusted $290 in 1982.

No Motor Vehicles

Using Alternative Transportation lessens Congestion

Walking: Frequent walking is one of the most healthy, efficient, and affordable ways to get from one place to another. All too frequently, people are conditioned to take their car wherever they need to go, no difference that their destination may only be a couple of blocks away and within walking distance. Walking leaves no carbon emissions and it’s one of the best ideas for getting around town.

Biking: Biking is another alternative transportation option. For example, if the rider and bike weigh 200lbs, traveling at a speed of 12mph, that rider will achieve approximately 685 mpg. I don’t think that any car will ever be able to achieve this number. Try the Bike MPG Calculator for yourself. And in case you didn’t know, you can use either a bike rack that’s provided on LA’s Metro buses; or a bike locker at a local Metro stop—either way, you can combine the benefits of two alternative modes of transportation safely, and affordably.

Vanpool and Park and Ride: By using a mixture of a private and public component, your energy usages, congestion time, money, and fuel requirements are decreased significantly without any lessening of your quality of life.

Orange Line

Public Transportation: Based on the chart above, if public transportation had been discontinued and its riders traveled in automobiles during 2007, an additional 646 million hours of delay would have ensued and 398 million more gallons of fuel would have been consumed.

Put another way, in large metropolitan areas, public transportation saved $12 billion dollars annually for 2007.

In 2009, the Los Angeles Metro has an average weekly ridership of 3,142,417 people. Imagine if all those riders were driving their own cars on the streets and highways; it’s not hard to envision what the additional congestion costs, time, and money would be just for the Los Angeles area alone.

Can we Change our Transportation Choices?

Let’s pretend for a moment that we could. Now imagine if the weekly Metro ridership doubled. How engaging would our roads than be; how much time would be saved; how much money would be saved; and how much easier would it be for other modes of transportation to accomplish what they were meant to do when they were conceived a long time ago. I don’t think that this is an unrealistic goal, and all it takes to revolutionize our way of traveling is to have one person change at a time.

Walkin' in LA

Cost Savings per month, and year, when using the Metro

“Transit riders can save on average $761 per month.  The savings amount is based on the cost of the national averages for parking and driving, as well as, the July 9 national average gas price of $2.58 per gallon for self-serve regular gasoline as reported by AAA.” Source: American Public Transportation Association

Are gasoline prices per gallon in Los Angeles at the $2.58 parity suggested in the APT Study above? Not at any gas stations that I’ve seen. If you’d like to calculate your own personal savings by using the Metro, here’s a trustworthy calculator to assist you calculate and see how much money you could be putting into your pocket.

Shortly it will be easier to use the Metro, as the first of the Measure R funds are making their way into use—I’ll be writing about this in further detail soon.

If you’re already taking the Los Angeles Metro, you’re way ahead of the masses in terms of finding alternative solutions to avoid congestion and to save money. If you haven’t started yet—just do it!

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7 Responses to “Reduce the Costs of Traffic Congestion by using Metro”

  1. Jannie Funster says:

    Yep, mass transit works! Just look at Europe. Man, I loved those TGVs. And the bar cars on them weren’t bad either. :)

    Jannie Funster’s last blog post..Why we usually eat at home


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Jannie Funster, The light rail line is currently being extended in the LA region, so I think it’s getting better.

    Bar cars? I’m not so sure about that one. :)


  2. Patricia says:

    I was in Portland this weekend and just loved getting around on the free downtown Max…it was great and made the city so much more fun.
    Wish we could get our act together in Washington about trains and metro – we do have good buses!

    Patricia’s last blog post..Understanding Agenda For a New Economy ~ David Korten


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Patricia, Talk about free buses, Long Beach has the “Passport” which I’ve seen but haven’t ridden. I will be soon. :)

    I’m so happy you had a great weekend in Portland. They do have a great bus system there, from what I’ve read. :)


  3. Patricia says:

    Max is the train in Portland..Good buses are in Seattle – maybe soon light rail? We have good buses in our little town and tons of bikes and bike paths.

    You wanted to know when I was putting up the Seattle to Portland Pictures from the 204 mile bike ride this weekend on my site? Well, I think they should be all sorted and up by tomorrow 8/15 just waiting on my husbands pics to be sent over…
    They had a great ride except for one bird pooh incidental on the ride to Seattle getting on the ferry…maybe it was a blessing :)
    My pictures are the blurry ones!

    Patricia’s last blog post..Understanding Agenda For a New Economy ~ David Korten


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Patricia, Great. I look forward to seeing them. Hey, I’ve heard bird poop is a sign of good luck. :)


  4. Patricia says:

    In China no one can get married on a day that it rains – sign of too much fertility
    I too have heard that bird poop is a sign of good luck – but no one feels that way at the moment!

    There are 100s of pictures now on the STP site…I should go and check if my IT got some of ours up…it was really a great day

    Patricia’s last blog post..Part II: The case for Eliminating Wall Street


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