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Opinion >  Letters

Transit services cost-effective

Not everyone in our community needs to use Spokane Transit Authority transit services. But everyone benefits from those services being available to our community.

High-quality public transit provides numerous benefits, including congestion reduction, road and parking facility cost savings, consumer savings, reduced accident risk, improved mobility for nondrivers, energy conservation, pollution emission reductions and improved public fitness and health.

Considering all these benefits, public transit investments often provide high economic returns. One million dollars spent on public transit services generates 31 jobs, compared with 14 jobs if spent on vehicles and 13 jobs if spent on fuel. Each transit passenger-mile of travel results in a 4-mile reduction in vehicle miles of travel, reducing congestion on our streets.

Considering just direct financial subsidies per trip, transit appears more costly than automobile travel. But over the year, transit subsidies turn out to be lower overall. A nondriver who buses 3,000 annual miles with 60 cent per passenger-mile external costs receives a $1,800 total annual subsidy. A motorist who drives 12,000 annual miles with 25 cent per mile external costs receives a $3,000 annual subsidy from taxpayers. Transit services are cost-effective for the community.

John Covert


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