Friday, February 11, 2011

Public Transit and Health Benefits

Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits (33 page pdf, Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, June 14, 2010)

Also discussed here: Living Near Public Transportation May Extend Your Life (The Dirt, Aug. 18, 2010)

This report focuses on the under-appreciated health benefits that public transportation provides to urban populations, expressed in quantitative terms for various health impacts, such as years of life lost or cost per mile traveled. These impacts in turn allow one to judge the priority of the impacts of  air pollution and other transportation-related health factors.

Key Quotes:

“public transit improvements and more transit oriented development can provide large but often overlooked health benefits.. reduces traffic crashes and pollution emissions, increases physical fitness and mental health, and provides access to medical care and healthy food”

“Public transit reduces pollution emissions per passenger-mile, and transit-oriented development provides additional emission reductions by reducing per capita vehicle travel”

“When all impacts are considered, improving public transit can be one of the most cost effective ways to achieve public health objectives, and public health improvements are among the largest benefits provided by high quality public transit and transit-oriented development”

“Use of less polluting alternative fuels (such as natural gas) increased from just 2.0% in 1992 to 30.4% by 2009, and electric modes (electric trolley buses and electric rail transit) increased from 29% to 34% of passenger-miles during the same period”

“A transportation policy or project is worth far more if it reduces vehicle traffic and increases walking and cycling activity, due to resulting health benefits. Conversely, a policy or project that stimulates vehicle traffic and reduces walking and cycling activity is probably worth far less than conventional analysis indicates due to negative health impacts”
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