During the second quarter of 2012, public transportation ridership in the U.S. increased by 1.6 percent over the second quarter of 2011, for a total of almost 2.7 billion trips taken. This has been the sixth consecutive quarterly increase according to a recently released report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Earlier this year, transit ridership actually hit a record high, and it’s just been climbing since.
According to the report, all of the major forms of public transportation increased, especially light and heavy rail. With light rail increasing by 4.3 percent in the second quarter and heavy rail by 2.5 percent. In addition, some of the public transit systems throughout the United States had record ridership during the second quarter, including the cities: Ann Arbor (MI), Boston (MA), Fort Myers (FL), Grand Rapids (MI), Lewisville (TX), Oklahoma City (OK), Olympia (WA), Portland (OR), and San Carlos (CA).
“Since nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are work commutes, public transit is a vital service for cities and towns nationwide,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Public transportation not only enables people to get to work, but development around public transit helps to create an economically prosperous community.”
“In some areas of the country, local and regional economies are rebounding, and not surprisingly, public transit ridership is up in regions where jobs are increasing and employment is up,” said Melaniphy.
As the local economies of the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Salt Lake City, Denver, Boston, Chicago, and Phoenix, have improved, their public transit systems have been experiencing record growth in ridership.
And all this growth has been occuring even while gas prices were declining, in the second quarter, Melaniphy said. “Even though gas prices declined in the second quarter, more people decided to take public transportation. This goes to show that there is a growing public demand for public transportation services and the next Congress and President must address this issue.”
On the national scale, ridership increased by 2.5 percent on heavy rail, and 11 out of 15 heavy rail systems recorded ridership increases in the second quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. The highest increases in heavy rail ridership for 2012 occurred in: Cleveland, OH (9.9%); San Francisco, CA (6.8%); and Chicago, IL (4.4%).
The report continues:
Light rail ridership increased by 4.3 percent in the second quarter, as 21 out of 27 light rail systems reported an increase in ridership from April through June 2012. Light rail systems saw double digit increases in the second quarter in six cities: Memphis, TN (36.7%); Salt Lake City, UT (28.8%); Pittsburgh, PA (21.2%); Los Angeles, CA (13.8%); Sacramento, CA (13.4%); and Seattle, WA (10.3%). Other light rail systems with large increases were in the following cities: Boston, MA (8.0%); Phoenix, AZ (7.3%); and New Orleans, LA (7.0%).
Eighteen out of 28 commuter rail systems reported ridership increases and commuter rail ridership grew by 1.7 percent. Commuter rail ridership saw a triple digit increase in Lewisville, TX (258.0%) due to new service and saw double digit increases in the second quarter in the following cities: Austin, TX (14.8%); Seattle, WA (14.6%); San Carlos, CA (13.3%); and Stockton, CA (12.2%). Other commuter rail systems showing high increases were located in the following cities: Salt Lake City, UT (7.4%); Anchorage, AK (7.1%); Portland, OR (6.7%); Harrisburg-Philadelphia (6.2%); Baltimore, MD (5.8%); and Los Angeles, CA (5.8%).
Bus ridership also rose substantially on the national level, by nearly one percent from April through June of 2012. The largest increases in bus ridership occurred in: Oakland, CA (9.5%); Providence, RI (9.3%); Saint Louis, MO (6.7%); Long Beach, CA (5.2%); Arlington Heights, IL (4.5%); and Denver, CO (4.5%).
Perhaps people are just seeing the many attractions of fun and exciting transit options.