Nearly 2.6 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the first quarter of 2016, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), representing a slight increase of 0.4%.
Rail ridership saw significant increases, with light rail showing the largest increase of 3%.
"On a national level, public transit ridership was slightly up for the first quarter of 2016, with solid increases in light rail, heavy rail (subways) and commuter rail," said Valarie J. McCall, APTA chair and board member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.
Public transportation systems in the following cities reported record ridership for the first quarter: Albany, N.Y.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Oklahoma City; and Seattle. Additionally, public transit systems in cities of all sizes saw ridership increases due to economic expansion, as new jobs were added and unemployment decreased. These cities were: Albany, N.Y.; Boston; Detroit; Hartford, Conn.; Lewisville, Texas; Little Rock, Ark.; New York City; San Antonio and San Francisco.
Noting that nearly 60% of trips taken on public transportation are taken for work commutes, McCall said, "It's common to see public transit ridership increase when communities are experiencing economic growth."
Gas prices were significantly lower than the 2015 first quarter. Nationally, the average price of gas during the first quarter of 2016 was $1.80. This quarterly gas average was 40 cents lower than the 2015 first quarter national average, a drop of 18%.
"Despite the fact that gas prices were extremely low, nearly 2.6 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the first quarter," said APTA Acting President/CEO Richard A. White. "It shows public transit services are essential to individuals and the communities they live in."
To see the complete APTA 2016 Q1 ridership report, click here.