Taking Public Transit Good for Human Health

Sitting in a car, honking horns, traffic backed up miles upon end!  This is the daily scene in many major metro areas; just another day going to and from work, out shopping, or any other activity in a major metro area.  Frustration, disappointment, and high stress build up as travelers sit in traffic for what looks like an eternity!  What is the solution to get out of this mess?  Well, one is to ditch your car for something less frustrating.  Public transportation comes to mind not only because it saves one from the hassle of sitting in traffic and thereby helps the environment, but there is another little noticed but significant benefit it provides--human health.

In particular, taking public transit helps with human health because, as a recent study from the University of British Columbia found, "Public transit riders were four times more likely to meet the Surgeon General's recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise each day, in part because they walk to public transit."  Clearly, taking public transit makes sense from both an environmental standpoint--less time in traffic and thereby less carbon dioxide emissions as well as human health--walking and burning calories as opposed to sitting.  As such, an important finding in the UBC's study, therefore, shows that "Transit users in all income groups walk more, but transit users of the highest income groups reported the most walking."

The benefits of public transit, therefore, can be seen in both the environmental and human health benefits they provide.  In terms of human health, if individuals have to walk in order to get to a bus-stop or ride the subway, then clearly that helps their health in addition to the environment by taking one more car off the highway.  If the benefits of public transit are evident in terms of environmental quality and human health, that begs the question of why more and more people do not use it.

Public transit may not be used, for example, out of convenience whereby if one is used to taking their car everywhere or if it is unreliable then it makes sense more people may take their car then wait for the bus to come on time.  However, if the goal is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. and to become an economy less reliant on fossil fuels, taking public transit clearly is a better option than driving a car from an environmental standpoint, but now as can be seen with the UBC study, human health too.

Photo Credit:  ETLamborghini