January 14, 2013

APTA's Melaniphy discusses state of the industry

In the State of the Industry for Public Transportation, published in the January 14 edition of Passenger Transport, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President/CEO Michael Melaniphy released new information about voters’ support for public transportation. A new nationwide survey conducted in November 2012, which assessed the voter mindset and motivation as the American people voted for a new Congress and President, showed overwhelming support for public transportation.

Eighty-one percent of respondents value public transit’s affordable mobility; 79% believe public transportation offers opportunity for every segment of the population; while 76% of respondents favor increased public transit funding to decrease our dependence on foreign oil and to improve America’s economic security. A strong 75% of respondents support using tax dollars to expand and improve public transportation and 73% say a strong public transit system leads to economic growth in their communities. Melaniphy noted that these numbers all point to a public that is clearly aware that public transit is vital to economic recovery in the U.S.

The survey numbers above are supported by the ballot box results of 2012 at the state and local level according to APTA. “Last year, Americans nationwide approved 49 of 62 — or 79% — of public transit initiatives,” said Melaniphy. “That represents our best showing at the ballot box since APTA and the Center for Transportation Excellence began tracking these ballot measures in the year 2000.”

Melaniphy addressed the future and goals for the coming year, “…our mandate is clear: Keep fighting for those public transit dollars that have proven to be an engine for growth and a lifeline to mobility.” He added, “in the new year, this will indeed be a challenge. As Congress and the White House seek ways to reduce federal spending and lower the deficit, every sector will need to prove its return on investment. 2013 is the time we’ll redouble our efforts to educate more people, win new allies and demonstrate public transportation’s essential role in a national recovery.”

According to Melaniphy, public transit success is due to the work of public transportation systems across America providing mobility to riders in communities of all sizes and all walks of life. He notes that public transportation continues to serve as a job creator as well as a primary mode of travel for Americans as the economy continues to recover. He further emphasizes the industry remains strong and continues to grow as America gets back to work.

Continued growth in ridership over the first three quarters of the year has been reflected in APTA’s quarterly ridership numbers which show that more and more riders are relying on their local public transportation system. “Younger riders as well as an aging population turn towards a reliable and accessible public transportation infrastructure,” said Melaniphy.

The survey was conducted among voters during the last national election night on Nov. 6, 2012 through a national phone and online opinion survey of 1,007 actual voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

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