Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Go car-free in D.C. and save more than $10,000 a year

September 13, 2011 - 02:32 PM
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Why drive when you can bike and bus? (Photo: flickr/Alex Barth)

The non-profit American Public Transportation Association has again released their national transit-savings report, which looks at how much the households of different cities can save by opting for public transportation rather than the car. D.C. provides many alternatives to the automobile, we know, through the Metro, Capital Bikeshare, Zipcar, countless taxis, and of course our own two feet.

To honor the fact that Car-Free Day is coming up on September 22 and that Capital Bikeshare is turning one year old, let's look at the APTA list for September, calculated with September 12 gas prices (a national average of $3.65 a gallon) and the local monthly unreserved parking rates as well as with average monthly transit fare. In APTA's words, the report hopes to crunch the numbers on "how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car." In the broader D.C. metro area, close to 200,000 households live without any cars as it is.

D.C. ranks 14th out of the 20 cities on the list. A District resident is projected to save $857 a month if he or she opts for transit alternatives to the car and ultimately saves $10,282 in a year. I'm personally a little surprised, given Metro fares, but District drivers do face a lot of aggravating, mind-numbing costs — and this list doesn't even factor in the nightmare of D.C. parking tickets!

What's stunning is to see how these numbers have changed in recent months. Look to November of last year, and yes, D.C. still ranks 14th, but the annual savings are close to a  thousand dollars less at $9,569. The same difference is true for other cities on the list I'm glancing at. What leaps out at me, considering this, is that driving a car now costs another $700 to $800 annually here in D.C., based on these expenses, and I'm sympathetic to what this is doing to the countless people who rely on their vehicles.

New York tops the list, with New Yorkers saving more than $14,000, followed by Boston and San Francisco. See the full list after the jump:

City                            Monthly                                       Annual
1 New York              $1,218                                        $14,614
2 Boston                  $1,127                                        $13,526
3 San Francisco     $1,095                                        $13,142
4 Seattle                   $999                                           $11,990
5 Chicago                $978                                           $ 11,731
6 Philadelphia         $975                                           $11,694
7 Honolulu               $946                                           $11,346
8 Los Angeles         $901                                          $10,815
9 Minneapolis         $ 890                                          $10,683
10 San Diego          $874                                           $10,486
11 Portland              $864                                           $10,372
12 Denver                $860                                            $10,325
13 Baltimore            $838                                           $10,059
14 Washington D.C.    $857                                     $10,282
15 Cleveland             $829                                         $9,948
16 Miami                    $800                                          $9,604
17 Atlanta                   $784                                          $9,403
18 Dallas                   $781                                         $9,368
19 Pittsburgh            $778                                          $9,335
20 Las Vegas           $772                                           $9,268

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