Public Transit received a boost today as Congressman David Price, Congressman Brad Miller and other supporters held an event at the historic Seaboard Train Station calling for more public transit options in the Triangle, citing a major new report on oil savings and other benefits from public transportation across the country. The NC Public Interest Research Group (NCPIRG) released “A Better Way to Go: Meeting America’s 21st Century Transportation Challenges with Modern Public Transit,” which examines the challenges faced by America’s transportation system and the benefits of existing rail and bus projects in Triangle and other areas of the state.
According to the report, public transit in the Triangle—including the Capital Area Transit, Triangle Transit Authority, Durham Area Transit, and NCSU—saved 467,950 gallons of oil. Around the country transit saves 3.4 billion gallons of oil each year, prevents 541 million hours of traffic delay and reduces global warming pollution by 26 million tons. Additional data presented at the press conference estimated that Raleigh-Durham commuters collectively spent 1500% more hours wasted in traffic in 2005 than in 1982. Demand for public transportation is booming nationally, with transit trips far outpacing the growth of auto miles or population since 1995.
“This report shows why public transit is a necessity not an amenity.” said Shana Becker, Consumer Advocate at NCPIRG. “It puts clear numbers on how public transit reduces oil dependence, traffic congestion, and global warming pollution. Triangle residents deserve better transportation choices.”
NCPIRG is members of a new transportation coalition, NC Transportation Reform and Modernization that represents over one million North Carolinians. NC TRAM was formed to promote “a transportation system for the 21st century.” In addition to urging more investment in public transit, they are calling upon lawmakers to require the Department of Transportation to use objective criteria for project prioritization, and to link land use to transit planning. Another member of the group, NC Justice’s Budget and Tax Center, released a report on the state’s transportation spending two weeks ago. According to the report, the Department of Transportation allots about 3% of its funds for public transit spending. Slightly more than 1% of the transportation funds that the state receives from the federal government are awarded for public transit.
“Moving ahead with commuter rail in the Triangle is a key step toward 21st century transportation system,” said Becker. “This report shows that transit saves North Carolinians energy, time, and money. With rising gas prices and increasing traffic projected for the future, we can’t afford not to invest in popular projects like this that meet our state’s long-term needs.”