Monday, March 31, 2014

U.S. Transit Ridership Reaches Highest Level Since 1956

Transit ridership in the U.S. grew 1.1 percent in 2013 to 10.7 billion trips, the highest total since 1956, according to data collected by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). A trip is considered any segment of a passenger’s commute. For example, taking a bus to the subway and then riding the train to work constitutes two trips.

Since 1995, transit ridership is up 37.2 percent, which outpaced the national population growth of 20.3 percent, according to Michael Melaniphy, APTA president and CEO. The nation’s trains, buses and commuter rail carried more trips last year than in 2008, when gas prices soared to $4 to $5 per gallon and many were forced out of their cars by necessity. That year saw the highest ridership totals since 1957

Melaniphy said that public transit systems in large and small cities and in suburban and rural communities are seeing ridership increases.

Ride On’s ridership dipped last January due to the snow storms, but, overall, is up slightly from a year ago.

Alan Pisarski, editor of the Commuting in America report series, notes that while transit carried more trips last year than at any time since the Eisenhower administration, its share of the transportation mode – that is, the percentage of commuters who take transit versus driving, walking, etc. – is still well below what it was in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. He stated that in 1960, 12.1 percent of commuters took public transportation. That dropped to 8.9 percent 10 years later and to 6.2 percent in 1980. By 2000, the percentage was 4.6 percent, but it rose at the end of the decade. In 2012, transit’s share of the transportation mode was 5 percent.

(Source for national data: USA Today, March 10, 2014, as noted in Transit Intelligence eNewsletter, March 10, 2014.)