Integrating art into the transit experience can have a significant environmental impact, largely by drawing people out of cars.Art makes mass transit a more attractive alternative to driving, resulting in improved air quality, a reduction in fuel consumption, and lowering of the emissions that cause ozone depletion and climate change. Art can also be used to focus attention on important environmental concerns.
ART INCREASES RIDERSHIP
Enhancing utilitarian transit environments with high-quality and immersive artwork is proven to increase ridership: Buenos Aires’ transit ridership doubled after the infusion of art in their subway.1 Studies of the art-in-transit programs in Naples, Vancouver, and New York reveal that artistically enhanced transit environments make people more likely to take transit.2 3 4 5 Increased use of public transit reduces pollution emissions per passenger-mile: for every person that is drawn out of a car each year, 4,800 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced.6 Transit-oriented development follows as ridership grows, providing additional emission reductions by reducing per capita vehicle travel.7 8
Trains offer an energy-efficient means to transport people en mass, reducing congestion on roadways and improving air quality for everyone.9
IMPROVES AIR QUALITY
As travelers choose mass transit over cars, air quality will improve, making the area healthier and safer for all living things and even reducing pollution-related property deterioration.10
REDUCES GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Today’s climate concerns demand that we find ways to slow climate change and improve air quality. In 2013, CO2 was at an all-time high and will continue to grow until we effectively reduce emissions.11 Public transportation use in the United States reduces our nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually. This is equivalent to Washington, DC, New York City, Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles combined stopping using electricity.12 A single commuter switching his or her commute to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 percent and up to 30 percent if he or she eliminates a second car.13 Trains are energy-efficient: train emissions of CO2 per passenger/Km are, on average, approximately half that of travel by car.14 Moreover, public transportation use in the United States helps to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually—the equivalent of 900,000 cars filling up every day.15
ART BUILDS ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS
Public art can be an effective tool in raising community consciousness. Many artists make environmental issues the central focus of their work; by using the transit environment as a platform, artists can help bring these concerns into the minds of viewers on a daily basis.
1 Transit Cooperative Research Program, sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration. Research Results Digest 96. August 2010. http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/tcrp/tcrp_rrd_96.pdf
2 Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Urban Environmental Programs, Case Studies in Sustainable Transportation, North America Case Study 95: Public Art and Design in Transit, November 2011. https://www.fcm.ca/Documents/case-studies/GMF/Transport-Canada/PublicArtDesignTransit_EN.pdf
3 Cascetta, Ennio and Armando Carteni. The hedonic value of railway terminals. A quantitative analysis of the impact of stations quality on traveler’s behavior. 2012. Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, University of Napoli Frederico II, Naples, Italy.
4 Transit Cooperative Research Program, sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration. Research Results Digest 96. August 2010. http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/tcrp/tcrp_rrd_96.pdf
5 Seixas, Naomi. “Does Art matter? Assessing the Social Value of Public Art in New York City’s Transit System.” Tracing the City: Interventions of Art and Public Space. Adapted for ‘Urban Encounters: Art and the Public’ from a demonstration of professional competence submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science and Regional Planning, School of Architecture, Pratt Institute. May 2013. http://tracingthecity.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Does-Art-Matter.pdf
6 American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Public Transportation Benefits. http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/ptbenefits/Pages/default.aspx
7 itman, T. Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits. Victoria Transport Policy Institute, for the American Public Transportation Association. June 2010. http://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/APTA_Health_Benefits_Litman.pdf
9 Friends of the Earth. Fact Sheet: Why travelling by rail is better for the environment. http://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/travelling_rail_better.pdf
10 Litman, T. Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits. Victoria Transport Policy Institute, for the American Public Transportation Association. June 2010. http://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/APTA_Health_Benefits_Litman.pdf
11 “Greenhouse gas emissions rise at fastest rate for 30 years.” The Guardian. Sept. 9, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/09/carbon-dioxide-emissions-greenhouse-gases
12 American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Public Transportation Benefits http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/ptbenefits/Pages/default.aspx
13 American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Public Transportation Benefits http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/ptbenefits/Pages/default.aspx
14 Friends of the Earth. Fact Sheet: Why travelling by rail is better for the environment. http://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/travelling_rail_better.pdf
15 American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Public Transportation Benefits http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/ptbenefits/Pages/default.aspx