APTA | Passenger Transport
September 22, 2008

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Public Transit Ridership Surges in 2nd Quarter

APTA announced Sept. 16 that U.S. public transportation ridership climbed 5.2 percent in the second quarter of 2008 compared with the same quarter in the previous year. Americans took more than 2.8 billion trips on public transportation between April and June of this year, nearly 140 million more trips than from the same time period last year.

While public transportation use continued to climb, vehicle miles traveled on the nation’s roads continued to go down—by 3.3 percent, according to the Federal Highway Administration, marking the eighth consecutive month of decline.

“Record numbers of Americans from small communities to large cities continue to ride public transportation to beat the high gas prices,” said APTA President William W. Millar. “This large quarterly increase is remarkable, particularly since an economic downturn usually causes fewer people to ride public transit. This surge in ridership underlines the urgent need for increased investment in public transportation from state, local and federal governments.”

Light rail showed the highest percentage of ridership increase among all modes, posting a 12.3 percent increase for the second quarter. Light rail systems showing double-digit increases were Buffalo, NY, 45.9 percent; Philadelphia, 34.9 percent; Kenosha, WI, 26.9 percent; Sacramento, 26.3 percent; Salt Lake City, 19.4 percent; Minneapolis, 16 percent; Baltimore, 13.7 percent; San Francisco, 12.2 percent; and Pittsburgh, 12 percent.

Overall bus ridership had the second highest increase for the quarter, 5.1 percent nationwide. Bus travel in communities of all sizes saw ridership increases; communities with populations ranging from 100,000 to 499,999 experienced a 14 percent increase, and ridership in communities under 100,000 increased by 11.1 percent. The highest increases at the largest bus agencies were in Baltimore, 18 percent; San Antonio, 14 percent; Phoenix, 13.3 percent; Oakland, CA, 10.2 percent; San Diego, 9.6 percent; Chicago, 8.5 percent; Denver, 8 percent; Minneapolis, 7.6 percent; Seattle, 7.5 percent; and Boston, 5.3 percent.

Ridership on commuter rail grew 4.9 percent nationally for the second quarter. Commuter rail systems with double digit ridership growth in the second quarter of 2008 were Portland, ME,  43.2 percent; Seattle, 30.9 percent; Pompano Beach, FL, 28.8 percent; Santa Fe, NM, 28.3 percent; Harrisburg, PA, 17.8 percent; Philadelphia, 15.5 percent; Dallas, 15.3 percent; Stockton, CA, 14.9 percent; New Haven, 13.7 percent; and Oakland, CA, 13.7 percent.

Heavy rail ridership increased by 4.3 percent. The heavy rail systems with the largest increases in ridership for the 2008 second quarter were San Juan, PR, 20.8 percent; Atlanta, GA, 15.6 percent; Staten Island, NY, 11.3 percent; Miami, FL, 9.2 percent; Lindenwold, NJ, 9.1 percent; Boston, MA, 7.7 percent; Los Angeles,7.6 percent; Jersey City, NJ, 5.7 percent; San Francisco, 5.6 percent; and Baltimore, 5.3 percent.

The complete text of the second-quarter ridership report can be found here.

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