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Originally published Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Annual savings from riding Metro instead of driving: $8,400

A typical King County transit user can save up to $8,400 a year by leaving the car at home and riding a Metro Transit bus, according to a new national survey released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Seattle Times staff reporter

A typical King County transit user can save up to $8,400 a year by leaving the car at home and riding a Metro Transit bus, according to a national survey released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

It found King County is fourth in the nation in what it calls the "transit savings report." Calculations were based in part on the cost of gas in the Seattle area and the price of an average Metro bus pass.

The $8,400 in annual savings is more than the typical household pays for food in a year, said Metro.

"Riding the bus has always been a good deal, but given how gas prices have soared recently it's a better bargain than ever," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "We know riding our buses is more than a choice, for many local families. The transportation savings is making the difference in helping them pay the bills."

APTA's study shows how much a person can save on a monthly and yearly basis by taking public transit and getting by with one less car in the household.

Gas prices have increased nearly 180 percent since 2003, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After factoring in today's average gas price and the average transit fare, APTA's analysis shows a national savings average of $672 a month or $8,059 per year by using public transit.

That annual cost savings is almost $2,000 more than the annual cost of food ($6,111), according to the Food Institute. And, the savings are even more in King County — $701 a month and $8,413 annually — because the price of gas is higher here than the national average.

APTA calculates the average cost of taking public transit by determining the average monthly transit pass of local public-transit agencies across the country.

APTA then compares the average monthly transit fare with the average cost of driving, using the 2008 AAA figures. APTA's calculations also assume a household gives up one midsize vehicle and that the person drives an average of 15,000 miles a year.

In King County, Metro has seen a 6.5 percent increase in ridership during the first six months of 2008. In response, Metro has added new bus service and 22 new buses to accommodate the growth, and more will be added in September. By the end of 2008, Metro will have added a total of 100,000 new hours of bus service over the past two years through the Transit Now initiative passed by voters in November.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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