By Tyler Falk
Posting in Cities
Last year, Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation, a ridership increase of 2.3 percent.
Those are the latest numbers released today by the American Public Transportation Association. The ridership level is the highest since 2008, when gas prices were more than $4 a gallon, and the second highest since 1957. APTA also reports that the total number of vehicle miles traveled declined by 1.2 percent last year.
Higher gas prices and more people going to work in a recovering economy are two of the biggest reasons for the increase. But APTA says that technology that makes transit easier to use might also factor into the increase.
“The exponential growth of apps to track bus and rail arrival times is demystifying the ridership experience and attracting new customers to public transportation," said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy, in a statement. "More and more people are now able to find out when the next bus and train will arrive through public transit apps. This is making public transportation more attractive."
Looking at specific modes of transit, light rail (including streetcars and trolleys) lead the way with a 4.9 percent increase, followed by heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) at 3.3 percent, commuter rail at 2.5 percent, and large bus systems at 0.4 percent.
All these increases come despite the fact that transit agencies are increasing fares and decreasing service because of budget cuts. Melaniphy told USA Today, "Can you imagine what ridership growth would have been like if they hadn't had to do those fare increases and service cuts?"
For information on ridership in specific cities, read APTA's complete 2011 ridership report.
Mar 11, 2012
Public transportation usage certainly isn't increasing in my area! We are struggling to get the metro rail to our local airport at a cost of almost $3billion for 8 miles and 5 stations....Now reports are that the ridership of this line will not be enough to even pay for the yearly cost to run the system, less the $3billion it's going to cost to build! This means that the local counties will need to tax EVERYONE in the county to pick up the difference! And with people living in this bedroom community county, everybody is already complaining about the cuts we have to make about the amount of money going to schools...I can't imagine the fighting that will occur once we have to start paying for the metro line!
What about the future'? Working most of us in home, No prob w/transp. Low polution, More time or us. New kinds of energy, by to the oil.