Public Transportation in the DMV

Alameen Murphy
May 26, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2017


Fig. 1: An image of the DMV metro system. (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

When people ask me where I am from, I often respond with "I am from the DMV." And more than likely people respond confused and ask "Department of Motor Vehicles?" A often common west coast comment I receive, but most people on the East coast know the DMV as D.C, Maryland, and Virginia Metropolitan area. If you ever are new to living in the area the most common suggestion for quick adjustment is to learn the metro as soon as possible. The metro is the main source of transportation in the DMV, as seen in Fig. 1. This is key that more and more people in the D.C, Maryland, and Virginia area use the metro not only because it makes getting around the area easier, but because it is key way to save energy. As the United States strives to achieve greater energy efficiency and independence and to improve the environment, the role of transportation has become paramount. America consumes more energy and produces more pollution in mobility and travel than in any other activity. With the DMV being a high populated area the more people who choose to ride the metro the better for our countries environment and energy conservation.

Environmental Benefits

The direct environmental benefits of public transportation come primarily from two factors. First, as we have now established, public transportation systems burn less fuel on a per person/per mile basis and therefore produce less pollution. Second, the diesel fuel and electrical power used in public transportation systems are less polluting, unit-by-unit, than the gasoline used in most private automobiles, SUVs, and light trucks. Approximately 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector are related to the surface transportation system. Those who choose to ride public transportation reduce their carbon footprint and conserve energy. [1] U.S. public transportation saves 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually equivalent to the emissions resulting from the electricity generated for the use of 4.9 million households - or every household in Washington DC, New York City, Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles combined. [2]

Public Transportation Energy Benefits

When it comes to energy saving there are many pros to public transportation. Riding public transportation far exceeds the benefits of other energy-saving household activities, such as using energy-efficient light bulbs, adjusting thermostats, or using energy- efficient appliances. [1] Public transportation use saves the U.S. the equivalent of 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually and more than 11 million gallons of gasoline per day. [2] Public transportation such as the metro helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil and gas. Even current popular transportation options such as Uber or Lyft do not compare to conventional public transportation such as the Metro (train/bus). One reason that public transportation is nearly twice as energy-efficient as private automobiles is that public transit on average carries many more passengers at once than private automobiles. [1]


In conclusion increasing the role of public transportation can provide the most effective strategy available for reducing energy consumption and improving the environment. Even my hometown of the DMV still faces many energy problems today the metro-rail (metro) serves as a key proponent in helping our environment in this energy crisis.The energy savings and environmental benefits derived from public transportation could be much greater, if Americans used public transit more frequently.

© Alameen Murphy. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] R. J. Shapiro, K. A. Hassett, and F. S. Arnold, Conserving Energy and Preserving the Environment: The Role of Public Rransportation," American Public Transportation Association, July 2002.

[2] J. Neff and M. Dickens, "2016 Public Transportation Fact Book," American Public Transportation Association, February 2017