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Atlanta, GA – Transit funding received a boost today as advocates and citizen supporters held an event at the state capitol releasing a new report on oil savings and other benefits from public transportation across the country. The Georgia PIRG report, A Better Way to Go: Meeting America’s 21st Century Transportation Challenges with Modern Public Transit, examines the challenges faced by America’s transportation system and the benefits of existing rail and bus projects in Atlanta and across Georgia.
According to the report, metro Atlanta transit agencies reduce CO2 emissions by 662,036 metric tons per year and save consumers $228 million in gasoline expenses. Around the country transit saves 3.4 billion gallons of oil each year, prevents 541 million hours of traffic delay and reduces global warming pollution by 26 million tons. Demand for public transportation is booming nationally, with transit trips far outpacing the growth of auto miles or population since 1995.
“This report shows why we need projects like the Beltline, the Brain Train, and the Lovejoy line,” said Rob Thompson, Georgia PIRG Advocate. “It puts clear numbers on how public transit reduces oil dependence, traffic congestion, and global warming pollution. Atlantans need better transportation choices and need to get all of these projects off the drawing board and into action.
For instance, the Beltline project will provide a 22-mile transit loop inside the city of Atlanta, connecting with MARTA train lines at four stops. This project will enable Atlantans to move around the city without a car, thereby reducing congestion and improving air quality. And in light of a recent decision by the EPA to strengthen air quality standards, it’s more important than ever to get cars off the road.
“With the stronger ozone standard announced last week, the gap between current summer ozone levels in Atlanta, Macon, Athens and Augusta and what is safe to breathe is clearer than ever,” says Rebecca Watts Hull with Mothers & Others for Clean Air. “With cars and trucks contributing half of smog-forming nitrogen oxides in metro Atlanta, it will be very difficult to meet the new standard without significant investment in public transit.” and
National public opinion polls that 53 percent of commuters would prefer to use more public transportation if it were available near their home and workplace. An overwhelming majority of the public, seventy-five percent, tell pollsters that transit is the best way to fight traffic congestion.
“This report thoroughly makes the case for why we should have begun expanding our mass transit systems yesterday,” said Lee Biola, president of Citizens for Progressive Transit. “We hope policy makers will take advantage of information in the report to get Georgians out of traffic, into cleaner air, and better connected to walkable communities.”
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