March 11, 2013

APTA: Public Transportation ridership up 7th year in a row

The demand for public transportation rose last year as Americans took 10.5 billion trips, the second highest ridership since 1957, and 154 million more trips than the previous year, according to a report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

This was the seventh year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide.

“In 2012, U.S. public transportation ridership grew at a record level as Americans took 10.5 billion trips. This is the second highest ridership since 1957, and it shows that there is a growing demand for public transportation,” said APTA President/CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Every mode of public transportation showed an increase in ridership. Public transit ridership grew in all areas of the country — north, south, east, and west — in small, medium and large communities, with at least 16 public transit systems reporting record ridership.”

“Considering the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy on some of the nation’s largest systems, this record level of ridership is truly significant,” added Melaniphy.

According to APTA, 74 million trips were lost when public transit systems from Washington, D.C. to Boston were shut down due to Hurricane Sandy and the blizzard that followed the next week.

“Two big reasons for the increased national transit ridership are high, volatile gas prices and in certain localities, a recovering economy with more people returning to work,” said Melaniphy. “Public transportation saves people money, and people save even more so when gas prices spike. Also, since nearly 60 percent of trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, it makes sense that ridership increases in areas where the economy has improved and new jobs have been added.”

Noting that people are changing their attitudes regarding travel, Melaniphy said, “There is a sea change going on in the way that people look at transportation. Americans want travel choices; they want to be able to choose the best travel option for their lives. This is an exciting time for the public transportation industry as more and more Americans support it and want it.”

Melaniphy also pointed out that more Americans are supporting public transportation investment, as evidenced by the large number of transit-oriented ballot initiatives that passed in 2012.

To see the complete APTA 2012 ridership report, click here.

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