Most of the money you spend on your car immediately flows out of your local economy. Not so with mass transit.
Here's a fascinating graphic from the National Building Museum's Intelligent Cities project (click on the image or here to enlarge it). The big numbers are impressive: a city can keep over $127 million in the local economy by reducing car ownership by just 15,000 cars. But I find this part particularly fascinating:
Though this does assume that you don't have insurance through a local business (which is increasingly rare, to be sure) and that you didn't buy the vehicle from someone in town, the numbers are still impressive.
Contrast this to the costs of taking mass transit, nearly all of which remain in the local economy, providing jobs to the engineers and bus drivers and mechanics and so on.
Need more self-serving reasons to consider mass transit? The American Public Transportation Association is making the case that, due to recent increases in oil prices, people who take public transportation—buses, subways, or commuter rail—are saving an average of $825 month nationally.
That's a huge number. Click through to the announcement for their methodology, which is "based on the March 4, 2011 average national gas price ($3.47 per gallon-reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate. "
Predictably, New York City tops the list of cities where you save big by opting for mass transit over auto-ownership: you'll save $1,198 every month or a whopping $14,376 annually! Rounding out the top 20 cities with the biggest potential for savings:
That's a heck of a lot of cash. Just how much is that "convenience" really worth? Carbon emissions aside, going car free in cities just makes a heck of a lot of fiscal sense.