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Agencies of All Sizes Report Record Ridership

Public transportation agencies across the U.S. are reporting record ridership levels in 2014 despite falling fuel prices. Here are a few examples.

The Riverside (CA) Transit Agency (RTA) announced that its ridership was the highest in its 38-year history, 9.7 million boardings; this breaks the record of 9.3 million passenger trips set in 2013. RTA noted that it also exceeded monthly ridership records for 10 of the last 12 months.

"Each of these boardings represents a unique trip by a veteran or senior citizen headed to an appointment, or someone going to class, to a full-time job or to visit family or friends," said RTA Board Chairman Andrew Kotyuk. "These numbers are remarkable and we are committed to continuing our efforts to give people a reason to ride."

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA), Burnsville, MN, also reported the highest annual ridership in its history, 2.8 million, in 2014. This number is 3.9 percent higher than in 2013. MVTA also noted service improvements during the year such as Wi-Fi on its buses and additional service to the University of Minnesota.

"The economy proved stronger in 2014 and gas prices plummeted, but ridership remained strong," said MVTA Executive Director Beverley Miller.

IndyGo in Indianapolis set a 23-year ridership record with almost 10.3 million passenger trips. The year included seven months with all-time high ridership. The agency installed several amenities during the year, including shelters, benches and trash cans throughout the service area, and it announced plans to open the Downtown Transit Center this year.

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus reported its highest annual ridership since 1986 with 19.3 million bus trips. This figure is more than half a million trips more than in 2013, representing an almost 3 percent increase.

COTA President/Chief Executive Officer Curtis Stitt said, "Members of this community are positively responding to our system improvements and more people are using public transportation. I am excited about the prospect of reaching our goal of 20 million trips this year."

COTA services introduced in 2014 included the free CBUS shuttle in downtown and reverse commute routes to a nearby business park.

Ridership on the Spokane (WA) Transit Authority's buses was the highest since 1953, more than 11.3 million rides. The agency noted that ridership levels were 2.5 percent higher than the previous year and had increased 44 percent since 2004--compared with 18 percent during the same time period for similar-sized cities across the nation.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, Tampa, FL, reported 1.27 million boardings in December 2014, 5.7 percent more than the previous December. Daily ridership exceeded 50,000 on 14 days during the month, reaching a high of 58,662 on Dec. 3.
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