The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), CTA, Metra and Pace are celebrating Earth Week – culminating in Earth Day on Saturday, April 22 – by encouraging the region’s riders to use the region’s transit system and celebrate its benefits to the planet.

“If you don’t usually take public transit, Earth Week is the perfect time to check out the benefits,” said RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden. “Public transit is the fast, convenient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to get around Chicagoland.”

Earth Day is one of the largest events in the world when people of all ages and backgrounds pledge to improve and protect the environment. The first Earth Day, celebrated nearly 47 years ago, on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air ActClean Water ActEndangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed.

CTA, Metra and Pace all reduce their impact on the environment:

  • Pace is the first transit agency in the Chicago area and the third in the state to adopt CNG technology, a clean-burning fuel for its fleet.
  • CTA replaces the equivalent of about 400,000 vehicles on regional roads each weekday. A full eight-car CTA train replaces more than 600 cars, and a full 60-foot articulated CTA bus replaces more than 70 cars.
  • If the Metra trains stopped running, it’s been estimated we’d need to add 27 more lanes to our already crowded highways.

Even those who don’t ride transit benefit from what it does for our environment:

  • Public transportation use saves more than 4 billion gallons of gasoline, reducing U.S. customer costs by $10 billion annually.
  • 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions are avoided by taking public transit.
  • One person with a 20-mile round trip commute can reduce daily carbon emissions by 4,800 pounds per year by taking public transit.

In addition to going green, public transit is a great way to save some green – the annual savings for a person in our region who switches from commuting by car to commuting by public transit is $11,415. Furthermore, the RTA’s Transit Benefit Fare Program can save riders up to 40 percent on commuting costs by deducting pre-tax funds from their paycheck to pay for their transit fares.