Despite falling gas prices and an economic recession, increasing numbers of Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation in 2008, the highest level of ridership in 52 years and a modern ridership record, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
The 10.7 billion trips represents a 4.0 percent increase over the number of trips taken in 2007 on public transportation, while at the same time vehicle miles traveled (VMTs) on the nation’s roads declined by 3.6 percent in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“Even as gas prices fell for the second half of the year and hundreds of thousands of people lost jobs, more and more people chose to ride public transportation throughout the country,” said APTA president William W. Millar. “Given our current economic condition, people are looking for ways to save money and taking public transportation offers a substantial savings of more than $8,000 a year. That’s quite a savings.”
The ridership record continues a long-term trend of ridership growth. Public transportation use is up 38 percent since 1995, a figure that is almost triple the growth rate of the population (14 percent) and up substantially over the growth rate for the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on U.S. highways (21 percent) for that same period.
Millar announced the ridership increase before more than 600 public transit leaders at an APTA conference in Washington, D.C., as well as the launch of a new advocacy campaign, "Public Transportation Takes Us There." The campaign is aimed at building congressional support for the authorization of the federal surface transportation legislation, which expires Sept. 30, 2009.
To see the complete APTA ridership report, click here.
For more information on public transportation’s role in climate change and energy independence, click here.