San Franciscans reeling from spending on holiday gifts can take solace from saving hundreds of dollars per month traveling via public transit.
A two-person household in The City realized $12,902 in extra cash by using transit instead of driving in 2011, according to a recent report by the American Public Transportation Association. Only residents in New York City and Boston saved more money from taking transit.
Ed Reiskin, director at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, said the importance of taking public transit could not be overestimated.
“Not only is a transit-first option an efficient way to travel, but it has been proven to save money for individual riders,” Reiskin said.
“Our goal is to continue efforts to improve Muni through projects that will increase reliability and efficiency as more and more people choose this system as a convenient way to get around.”
Commuters were able to save big in 2011 by taking Muni despite recent fare increases implemented by the SFMTA. In 2009, a monthly transit pass in San Francisco cost $45, and that included travel on BART within city limits.
Now, that same pass costs $72, and it will increase to $74 in July.
Still, those costs pale in comparison to driving expenses. The average monthly garage rate in San Francisco — $375 — is more than five times as expensive as Muni’s Fast Pass.
Costs for drivers include several factors. For the study, the APTA gathered the money for owning and driving a car by collecting reports from the American Automobile Association and Colliers International, a business organization that analyzes monthly parking expenses in America’s biggest cities. AAA calculates car expense by combining fixed costs, such as insurance, registration and finance charges, with variable costs such as local gas prices and maintenance. Colliers calculates parking by looking at the average median garage price in each city.
Virginia Miller, spokeswoman for APTA, said the high costs of driving are pushing many commuters onto transit.
The number of people taking public transportation increased in each of the first three quarters this calendar year, the first time that’s happened since 2008, Miller said.
“We know that public transportation is the quickest way to beat high gas prices,” Miller said.
Saving a few bucks
How the numbers stack up for San Francisco commuting:
$1,075 Monthly savings for two-person household by taking transit instead of driving
$12,092 Annual savings for two-person household by taking transit instead of driving
$375 Average monthly rate for garage parking space
$3.64 Average cost of gallon of gas