CTtransit Could Save Your Life

Author: Ilya Ilyankou, Transport Hartford Ambassador

In 2014, Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, published a paper titled A New Transit Safety Narrative, where he described public transport as a safe and secure mode of transportation, with the casualty (injury or death) rate being one-tenth of that of automobile travel. In the paper, Litman presented an eye opening chart of traffic fatalities plotted against annual transit rides per capita in US cities.

Question – Does this US trend repeat in Connecticut, the Land of Steady Habits?

Traffic Fatalities vs. Transit Trips, Litman, A New Transit Safety Narrative

From the Litman chart, it follows that the more transit trips a city has, the lower its traffic fatality rate. In other words, the more people that ride buses and trains, we expect to find that fewer people die in crashes.

How about Connecticut? – When analyzing traffic crash data for Connecticut, we discovered that towns in the state form a similar pattern. We created an interactive scatter plot of ‘Average Annual Crash Fatalities Rate (per 100,000 residents)’ vs ‘Public Transit Rate.’ The public transit rate for each town is available from the annual American Community Survey.

Conclusion – The two charts look very similar and convey the same idea: more transit ridership results in many fewer crash fatalities. The public safety benefit of bus transit and rail is particularly interesting in Connecticut with:

About the Connecticut Data and Other Sources –

  • The data is from two sources: US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the UCONN Crash Data Repository
  • The American Community Survey 2017 5-year estimates (ACS 17 5-year), which span 2013-2017, does not represent average. It just means that the data points used for the estimates are collected in these years. 5-year estimates are available for all sub-county divisions in Connecticut, that means, we have Population and Transit Use estimates for all 169 towns in CT.
  • UCONN Crash data was first de-duplicated to avoid double (and triple) counting of fatalities. The fatalities rates were then calculated on the average fatalities in years 2013-2017. For each town we summed up the number of fatalities for all years from 2013 to 2017, and divided by 5. Then that number was divided by the 5-year ACS population estimate to get the rate per 100,000. Annual death rate per 100,000 population is a common measure of mortality.
  • The data that was used in the CT graph
  • A New Transit Safety Narrative – Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute
  • The Best Tool for Reducing Traffic Deaths? More Transit! – Angie Schmitt, StreetsblogUSA