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U.S. public transit ridership is highest in decades

Posted on March 10, 2014

In 2013, 10.7 billion trips were taken on public transportation, which is the highest annual public transit ridership number in 57 years, according to a report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Overall, while vehicle miles traveled on roads (VMT) went up 0.3%, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1%. It was the eighth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide.

Several public transit agencies reported record ridership systemwide or on specific lines in cities including Ann Arbor, Mich.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Fort Myers, Fla.; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; New York City and New Orleans.

Since 1995, public transit ridership is up 37.2%, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3%, and VMT — up 22.7 percent.

“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities. People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth,” said APTA President/CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Access to public transportation matters. Community leaders know that public transportation investment drives community growth and economic revitalization.”

Ridership breakdown by mode:

  • Heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) ridership increased by 2.8% across the country as eight out of 15 transit systems reported increases.
  • Commuter rail ridership increased by 2.1% in 2013 as 20 out of 28 transit systems reported increases.
  • Light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) ridership increased 1.6% in 2013 with 17 out of 27 transit systems reporting increases.
  • Bus ridership increased by 3.8% in cities with a population of below 100,000. Nationally, bus ridership in communities of all sizes remained stable, declining by 0.1%.
  •  Demand response (paratransit) ridership increased in 2013 by 0.5%.

To view the full report, click here.

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