Management & Operations

APTA: 60% of Americans will use public transit on their summer vacation

Posted on May 30, 2016


Nearly 60%, or 78 million Americans who plan to vacation in a U.S. city this summer say they will use public transportation for activities, according to a survey conducted for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Even with record low gas prices this summer, the data show a slight increase (two percentage points) in the number of travelers who will use public transit. Approximately 131 million Americans plan to travel to a top U.S. city travel destination this summer.

"With the infusion of new technologies geared specifically towards public transit, out of town visitors are savvier about their daily travel options just like local commuters," said APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall. "As our industry continues to expand our technological footprint and access to information for travelers through phone apps, it increases visitors' ability to navigate a city with the local public transit system rather than a car."

APTA's annual Travel Like a Local summer survey shows that public transportation continues to be an integral part of vacation planning for city travelers. Continuing the trend in recent years, millennials and young adults aged 18 to 44 are the most likely (67%) to use public transit during their vacation to a major U.S. city this summer.

The data show that affordability is a city traveler's strongest reason for choosing public transportation. Seventy-percent of respondents say they will use public transit during their vacation to eliminate the need for parking, while 62% say that taking a bus or train is more affordable than taxis or rental cars. Other reasons include cutting down on the cost of gas (43%), and minimizing the stress of driving in an unfamiliar city (53%).

In addition, for the first time, APTA measures use of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft during city vacations. It showed that more than one-third (36%) of travelers will use these services for at least one activity during their trip. The most popular activities for those using these services during their vacation are dining and nightlife activities (23%). This supports previous research from APTA that shows ride-hailing services are a complement to public transit for later evening activities when public transit may not be available.

"While the nation is experiencing the lowest gas prices in more than a decade, the affordability and convenience of public transportation to get around a city and a surrounding community is still important for a number of travelers," said APTA Acting President/CEO Richard White. "Using public transit also can help provide a traveler with a truly local experience during vacation."

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