It may seem an obvious point, but transit is a remarkably safe form of travel, especially compared to the private car. A new report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) authored by Todd Litman puts some numbers to how higher transit dependence yields a transportation system that kills fewer people.
Public transportation is one of the safest ways to travel. It is ten times safer per mile than traveling by car because it has less than a tenth the per-mile traffic casualty (injury or death) rate as automobile travel. Public transit-oriented communities are five times safer because they have about a fifth the per capita traffic casualty rate as automobile-oriented communities. In addition, crash rates tend to decline as public transit travel increases in a community. Contrary to popular perceptions, public transit travel is significantly safer than automobile travel.
Credible research indicates that many planning practices that improve public transportation and encourage its use also tend to increase traffic safety. However, these benefits are often overlooked: individuals tend to exaggerate public transit risks; planners tend to overlook safety benefits when evaluating public transit improvements; and traffic experts seldom consider pro-transit policies as safety strategies.