More Angelenos are riding Metro buses and trains according to new statistics out from the public transit system, and this increase in ridership is not only good for their revenue -- it may have health benefits for the transit users as well.
Metro's Blog the Source reports that more than 9 million people used their light rail system in September, which is almost a million more riders than in 2010. According to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), commuting by light rail is linked to weight loss and these type of commuters are about 80 percent less likely to become obese over time.
This could prove especially beneficial for Angelenos, as nearly 24 percent of adults in Los Angeles County are obese according to recent numbers. At a press conference earlier this month, the director of the county's Department of Public Health, Dr. Jonathan Fielding, said that L.A.'s adult obesity rate has shot up 74 percent over the past 14 years.
"Obesity is something we can control," said L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky at the event. "It's a self-inflicted mistake that society inflicts on itself. It's something we can do something about and it starts with information."
According to Metro, about 38.7 million people used Metro buses or trains last month. This shows a slight dip in ridership from the year before, but is a marked increase from 2010. The FTA reports that because transit trips involve some amount of walking or cycling between stops, public transportation may help increase physical fitness and emotional well-being.
In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created a Transportation Policy Group to develop recommendations for improving public health through public transportation.
"Today, the [public transit] system is designed to move people and goods efficiently; however, there is a growing awareness across communities that transportation systems impact quality of life and health," their report said.
The CDC suggested that in addition to physical fitness, more people using public transit may help reduce the number of car crashes, which continue to be the leading cause of injury-related death for many age groups. Less cars on the road may also mean less pollution, the CDC reports, and although car emissions have decreased significantly over the past three decades, air pollution continues to cause health problems such as asthma or cardiovascular issues.