RELEASE: New Charlotte Area Commuter Study: It Pays to Take Transit

Press contact: Shannon Binns, 704-338-2610,

New Study: It Pays to Take Transit 
Carpooling, transit and telecommuting best transportation choices to save money and the planet

CHARLOTTE (July 17, 2013) – Charlotte area commuters could save between $931 (for urban commuters) and $2,163 (for rural commuters) per year if they switched to public transit for their daily commute, according to an analysis of NHTS data by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Other key Charlotte area findings include:

  • Both urban and suburban commuters in Charlotte drive over 1,000 more miles per year than the average American commuter.
  • Urban commuters in Charlotte use transit about half as much as the average American commuter, while suburban commuters in Charlotte use transit about 80% less than the national average.
  • Urban and suburban commuters in Charlotte spend up to $350 more per year on driving than the average American commuter.
  • Charlotte urban and suburban commuters emit 0.5 more metric tons of CO2 per year than the average American commuter.
  • By choosing transit just one day per week, Charlotte commuters can reduce their annual driving costs by 7 to 21 percent.
  • Switching to carpooling 20 days per month would reduce vehicle miles traveled by 136 (urban commuters) - 290 (rural commuters) miles per month, and would reduce driving costs by 26 to 40 percent.
  • Using trip-chaining (mostly by planning trips in advance) for errands, appointments, etc. could reduce driving costs by 15 to 35 percent.

“To help Charlotte area commuters significantly reduce the costs of their commute, and reduce our carbon emissions,” said Shannon Binns, executive director of Sustain Charlotte, “it is critical that we expand our transit system while also encouraging more carpooling, telecommuting, and moving closer to work, if possible. There is no silver bullet, but all of these choices have significant positive economic and public health impacts.”

Driving Commuter Choice in America, Expanding Transportation Choices Can Reduce Congestion, Save Money and Cut Pollution considered four types of commuters in America—city, suburban, rural and town, and non-commuters—and compared the impacts of different transportation choices on the cost of their commute.

“All across the country, a shift is taking place,” said Rob Perks, Transportation State Campaign Director for NRDC. “Increasingly, Americans are choosing to live in walkable communities, where they have more transportation choices that allow them to live closer to their jobs, and shops and schools, rather than stuck in traffic. Along with the personal freedom these communities provide, it’s exactly the kind of growth our country needs to cut pollution, save money and create a vibrant quality of life.”

If 25 percent of Americans adopted one of these alternative driving choices, the United States could reduce annual transportation emissions by three to 12 percent, reduce transportation fuel use by billions of gallons per year, and save consumers tens of billions of dollars in transportation spending each year. In addition, more choices in transportation would allow commuters to drive less, leading to less congestion in metropolitan areas, less wear and tear on roads, and less spending to maintain the nation’s infrastructure. 

“With gas prices on the rise, many commuters are turning to transit as a convenient, low-cost alternative to paying more at the pump. One of the fastest, cheapest ways to solve the problem of high gas prices is to break our nation’s addiction to oil by investing in clean, efficient modes of transit that go farther on a gallon of gas—or no gas at all.,” said Perks. 

NRDC’s report recommends policy solutions to invest in expanded transportation choices allowing Americans to enjoy the freedom of being able to travel shorter distances or less often by car. Building more compact, walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods and better transportation solutions will ensure our communities are sustainable. Improving the country’s infrastructure, lessening traffic congestion, decreasing oil dependence, reducing harmful air and global warming pollution, and improving our quality of life are choices to move America beyond oil.


Sustain Charlotte is a community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to educating, engaging and uniting citizens to solve Charlotte’s sustainability challenges. Since 2010, we have been inspiring choices that lead to a healthier and more vibrant community for generations to come. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @sustncharlotte.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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