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Some Economic Benefits of Sustainable Transportation

Attracts new business
Recently rail stations in London, Brussels, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. have all been renovated into lively complexes with offices, restaurants, and shops.

Generates sales
Toronto area consumers spent over $56 million on bike accessories and repairs in 1991.

Encourages local circulation of money
In Los Angeles, 80 of every $1.00 spent on public transport gets recirculated in the region, translating into $3.80 in goods and services. Conversely, 85 of every $1.00 spent on gas leaves the region.(1)

Stimulates retail trade
Twenty-six studies of pedestrianization and traffic calming in Britain and Germany showed a positive effect, with shops inside the pedestrianized areas being more successful than those outside.(2)

Offers cost effective services
"Cops on Bikes" programs offer cost-effective police services for many areas, with lower costs and greater flexibility than policing in automobiles.

Encourages high value land use
In Atlanta, $70 billion in apartments, offices and other developments have been built near the rapid transit rail lines.(3) Around Washinton D.C. 40% of new building space in the 1980s, worth $3 billion, was built within walking distance of a Metro stop.

Increases productivity
A study on U.S. government spending and its impact on worker productivity estimated that a 10-year $100 billion increase in public transport spending would boost worker output by $521 billion, compared with $237 billion for the same spending on highways.(4)

Reduces transportation costs
A business plan for a videoconferencing network at the BC Ministry of Transportation projects an investment of $977,000 will recover $2,241,500 in travel costs over two years.(5)

Enables economic development
In Montgomery County, Md a study found that if growth continued in the usual pattern, economic development would be stifled by traffic congestion. In contrast, if growth were focussed in pedestrian- and bike-friendly clusters along an expanded transit system, and commuter subsidies were revised to discourage car-use, jobs and households could double without exacerbating traffic congestion.

Reduces infrastrucure costs
New urban expressways cost up to $100 million per mile while rail and bike facilities cost on average $15 million and $0.1 million.

Creates Jobs
Sustainable transportation offers job creation possibilities in services, high technology, construction, design, manufacturing, maintenance, education, and research. For a more detailed list see our accompanying fact sheet Job Types in Sustainable Transportation.

1. Campaign for New Transportation Priorities (CNTP), "Urban and Suburban Transportation; Programs and Policies for More Liveable Cities," CNTP Policy Series Paper No 1, Washington D.C. March 1991. as cited by Marcia Lowe, WorldWatch Paper #118, Back on Track The Global Rail Revival (Washington, Worldwatch Institute, April 1994)

2. Hass-Klau, C. (1993) Impact of pedestrianization and traffic calming on retailing: a review of the evidence from Germany and the U.K. Transport Policy, 1, No 1, 21-31 as cited in Transport and The Environment (London: Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution Eighteenth Report, 1994) p.182.

3. American Public Transit Association, "Public Transit Works for America," Transit California, Sacramento: California Transit Association, November 1993. as cited by Marcia Lowe, World Watch Paper 118, Back on Track: The Global Rail Revival (Washington, D.C., WorldWatch Institute, April 1994)

4. David Alan Aschauer, "Transportation Spending and Economic Growth: The Effects of Transit and Highway Expenditures," (Washington, American Public Transit Association, D.C. September 1991) as cited in Marcia Lowe, Worldwatch Paper #118, Back on Track: The Global Rail Revival (Washington, Worldwatch Institute, April 1994)

5. Sue Zielinski, Transporting Ourselves to Economic Growth, paper submitted to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Employment, and Sustainable Development Meeting, (Winnipeg, IISD, June 1994)


Source: Background information from, "MOVING THE ECONOMY: Economic Opportunities in Sustainable Transportation" An International Conference . July 9 - 12 1998, Toronto, Canada.

Source: Pamplet of the Sustainable Transport Action Network (SUSTRAN), May 1996.
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Sustainable Transportation