Why use transit?

Public transportation in the United States is a crucial part of the solution to the nation’s economic, energy, and environmental challenges – helping to bring a better quality of life. In increasing numbers, people are using public transportation and local communities are expanding public transit services. Every segment of American society – individuals, families, communities, and businesses – benefits from public transportation.


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  • In 2012, Americans took 10.5 billion trips on public transportation, the 2nd highest annual ridership number since 1957.

  • 35 million times each weekday, people board public transportation.

  • From 1995 through 2012, public transportation ridership increased by 34%—a growth rate higher than the 17% increase in U.S. population and higher than the 22% growth in the use of the nation’s highways over the same period.

  • Public transportation is a $57 billion industry that employs nearly 400,000 people.

  • More than 7,300 organizations provide public transportation in the United States.

  • 74% of public funding for public transit is spent creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs.


bus-1Public transportation enhances personal opportunities

  • Public transportation provides personal mobility and freedom for people from every walk of life.

  • Access to public transportation gives people transportation options to get to work, go to school, visit friends, or go to a doctor’s office.

  • Public transportation provides access to job opportunities for millions of Americans.


Public transportation saves fuel, reduces congestion

  • Americans living in areas served by public transportation save 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel annually in congestion reduction alone.

  • Without public transportation, congestion costs would have been an additional $21 billion.


Public transportation provides economic opportunitiesbus-3

  • For every dollar communities invest in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns.

  • Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates 36,000 jobs.

  • Every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation yields $30 million in increased business sales.

  • Every $10 million in operating investment yields $32 million in increased business sales.


Public transportation saves money

  • The average household spends 16 cents of every dollar on transportation, and 94% of this goes to buying, maintaining, and operating cars, the largest expenditure after housing.

  • Public transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary, alternative to driving.

  • Households that are likely to use public transportation on a given day save more than $9,700 every year.


bus-2Public transportation reduces gasoline consumption

  • Public transportation’s overall effects save the United States 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.

  • Households near public transit drive an average of 4,400 fewer miles than households with no access to public transit. This equates to an individual household reduction of 223 gallons per year.


Public transportation reduces carbon footprint

  • Communities that invest in public transit reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually: equivalent to New York City; Washington, DC; Atlanta; Denver; and Los Angeles combined stopped using electricity.

  • A single commuter switching his or her commute to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10%, or up to 30% if he or she eliminates a second car. When compared to other household actions that limit CO2, taking public transportation can be 10 times greater in reducing this harmful greenhouse gas.

For more public transportation facts, see the Public Transportation Fact Book. The above information comes from the American Public Transportation Association.

Local bus route map:

My Way to Go

The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) has a new and comprehensive tool to help you find alternative commuting options. It’s called My Way to Go. Just enter your starting point and destination, and it will give you maps of the best walking, biking, public transit, and driving routes in your area. It will also help you form carpool and vanpool networks by searching for friendly commuters near you who are going in your direction. Try it out:


My Way to Go includes the fantastic Guaranteed Ride Home program which offers free taxi rides to commuters using alternative transportation modes in the event of unforeseen circumstances such as family emergency, stolen vehicle, unexpected change in shift schedule, etc. This program is available to those whose employers provide RTD EcoPasses or who pay for a stand-alone membership to the program. Check out the website for more information.




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The Regional Transportation District of Denver provides a host of valuable transit services to the greater Denver area. In fact, the District covers an area larger than the state of Rhode Island! (Sorry, Rhode Island. You’re always getting compared to bigger things.) These services include bus, light rail, Park-n-Ride, Call-n-Ride, Bike-n-RideSeniorRide, SkyRide, the free 16th Street MallRide, Ski-n-Ride, BroncosRide, RockiesRide, and many more.


To learn about RTD bus service, click here.

To learn about RTD light rail service, click here.

For information on how to ride RTD, click here.

To learn about bike storage and about how to take your bike on a bus or light rail, click here.

For a map of RTD Park-n-Ride lots, click here.

For a map of the entire RTD system, click here.



As previously mentioned, RTD offers employers the opportunity to purchase EcoPasses for their employees each year. Employees are issued an EcoPass smart card valid for unlimited rides on all Local, Express, and Regional bus and light rail service. The EcoPass also automatically enrolls employees in DRCOG’s Guaranteed Ride Home program.





RTD’s FasTracks is the largest voter-approved transit expansion program in the nation. It includes 122 miles of new rail service, 18 miles of bus rapid transit, 57 new stations, 31 new Park-n-Rides, 21,000 new parking spaces, and a complete redevelopment of Union Station.

The FasTracks program is important not only to the Denver metro region but to people around the world as well. The project has been visited by representatives from several countries interested in learning how to implement similar programs.

Here is a map of both planned and completed construction by the FasTracks program. Click the map to enlarge or download the PDF: