Seattle-Tacoma may have some of the nation's worst traffic, but the new Urban Mobility Report released last week by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute also shows our region enjoys some of the greatest benefits from use of public transportation.
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According to the study, Seattle-Tacoma residents saved 16 million hours of traffic congestion and $367 million in fuel and other costs by opting to take transit in 2011. Both figures are up slightly from 2010.
Those findings put Seattle-Tacoma in eighth place in the study's ranking of public transportation savings. Topping the list was New York City, followed by Chicago and Boston.
Many transit organizations around Puget Sound—including King County Metro—have recently struggled to maintain funding for all their existing routes. More than a dozen Metro bus routes were eliminated in September.
Last month, Metro also announced it plans to reduce service along the I-90 corridor in an effort to improve speed and mitigate overcrowding on its existing routes.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the industry's largest lobbying group, touted the report's findings and called for federal officials to help local organizations meet transit needs.
“This report serves as further evidence that Congress needs to find the funding mechanism to support a long-term surface transportation bill that will increase public transportation service and ensure that our infrastructure needs are met,” APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said in a news release. “As this report points out, traffic congestion will continue to increase. We need more public transportation, not less.”