The health benefits of public transport

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The health benefits of public transport

Posted 31 August 2010 12:00 by martin

An interesting study was carried out earlier this year by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in America, entitled “Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits”.

Many of the findings will come as no surprise to those of us that are already well aware of the health benefits of walking and cycling, and reducing traffic flow within cities. However, the report also highlights how little these health benefits are being taken into account by transport planners.

The study found that:

“Public transportation can provide significant health benefits. People who live or work in communities with high quality public transportation tend to own fewer vehicles, drive less, and use alternative modes more than they would in more automobile-oriented locations. This can provide large reductions in traffic crashes and pollution emissions, increases in physical fitness and mental health, and improved access to healthy food, housing and medical care. These health benefits are significant in magnitude compared with other planning objectives, but are often overlooked or undervalued in conventional transport planning.”

These health benefits are then translated into monetary value in order to reach the following conclusion:

When all impacts are considered, improving public transit can be one of the most cost effective ways to achieve public health objectives, and public health improvements are among the largest benefits provided by high quality public transit and transit-oriented development.

The full report is available here.

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