Thursday, January 20, 2011

How Much Time & Money Does DC's Metro Save?

Metro BlurHere in the DC area, we spend plenty of time talking about how much our Metro system costs. But how much does it save in time, money & imported oil?

A new report from the Texas Transportation Institute puts some numbers on transit savings:
Washington ranks 6th in the nation for "operational treatment savings" -- services like management of road incidents, street signal coordination and access to HOV lanes that help mitigate traffic. These save D.C. commuters 14,315 hours of delay, the report says.

Even better, D.C. is 3rd overall for preventing delays through public transportation alternatives. Local residents save more than 34 million hours of delay at a cost of $766.6 million, and 24 million gallons of gas, according to the report.
Those numbers are actually higher than Metro itself has estimated. Its FY2012 budget (PDF) estimates annual savings of $520 million & 26 million hours of travel time.

When you add the cost of the gas (about $75 million) to the $766 million savings figure ... and think about how much money & land it would cost to accommodate the 500,000 cars Metro takes off the road ... and events like inaugurations that would be impossible without Metro's ability to move people quickly ... and all the pollution Metro keeps out of our air & water ... suddenly Metro's $1.5 billion annual budget seems like a bargain.

Update 1/22: Great analysis on how the TTI's road traffic model is flawed from GreaterGreaterWashington.org's David Alpert.
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