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The Benefits of Public Transportation Go Farther than the End of the Line

Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. Since the Industrial Revolution, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which has changed the earth's climate. Temperatures are rising world-wide due to greenhouse gases trapping more heat in the atmosphere. Global warming leads and continues to cause climate change. Droughts are becoming longer and more extreme around the world. Tropical storms becoming more severe due to warmer ocean water temperatures. Warmer temperatures are also disrupting the usual balance of nature. This poses many risks to human beings and all other forms of life on Earth.

Higher temperatures increase heat-related illnesses and can make it more difficult to work and move around. Wildfires start more easily and spread more rapidly when conditions are hotter.

Rising temperatures lower many species survival rates due to changes that lead to less food, less successful reproduction, and interfering with the environment for native wildlife.

Transportation is one of the top ten causes of global warming contributing to the climate crisis. Vehicles like cars, planes, and boats which rely on fossil fuels to run release carbon and other types of pollutants into the atmosphere. 

Public transportation inherently benefits the environment because it reduces the number of people driving single occupancy vehicles. Buses, subways, and trolleys are almost always better than driving a car, because the more people traveling in a vehicle, the smaller the carbon footprint of each person. By increasing ridership on public transportation, more fuel is conserved, traffic congestion decreases, air pollution decreases, and the region's carbon footprint as a whole is reduced. We all have a stake in expanding public transportation use.

The facts are clear:

Public transportation saves fuel, reduces an individual’s carbon footprint, and reduces congestion.

Public transportation provides an immediate option individuals can take to reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Public transportation use by a solo commuter switching his/her commute from a private vehicle can reduce CO2 emissions by 20 pounds per day—more than 4,800 pounds in a year.

Public transportation use saves the U.S. the equivalent of 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually—more than 11 million gallons of gasoline per day.

Public transportation provides an affordable alternative to driving.

Public Transportation is a national priority that should be specifically targeted by climate change and energy legislation.

American households that produce the least amount of carbon emissions are located near a bus or rail line. The people in those households drive an average of 4,400 fewer miles annually compared to similar households with no access to public transit.

According to U.S. Census data, 46% of American households do not have access to any public transportation. Public transportation must expand geographically to capture shifts in population, both within regions and across the country. Funding is also needed to support public transportation systems that are struggling to maintain the quality of assets and consequently the quality and reliability of service. Systems must be adequately funded to allow people who are choosing public transportation - to stay on public transportation.

What is SEPTA doing? SEPTA is committed to transitioning away from diesel-powered buses. We're planning for a full transition to zero-emission buses (ZEBs) by the year 2040. A combination of federal, state, and local funding will be needed to achieve this. Check out our zero-emission bus playbook for more information on this forward-looking strategy to benefit the communities of the Southeastern Pennsylvania region.

Check this page for updates and for more ways you can fight climate change. It's as simple as sitting down on SEPTA!