US public transportation ridership increased yet again in the second quarter of 2014. A press release report released by the American Public Transportation Association showed urban mobility increasing to over 2.7 billion trips on US public transportation in the second quarter. Urban travelers are making commonsense choices for their pockets and the environment, effecting a 1.1% increase in ridership over the same quarter last year, an increase of 30 million more trips.
This trend is stable and growing, as in five of the last eight quarters ridership on US public transportation improved, and in the second quarter it actually “outpaced urban vehicle miles traveled (VMT) which grew at 0.97 percent for this quarter.” Record ridership increased on the expanded and new lines opened in the past five years, proving that the investments are paying off. With better options, people will choose public transportation.
Ridership on MetroRail, a commuter rail line in Austin, Texas, rapidly increased in the second quarter and has quadrupled since it began only a short four years ago in 2010. Denver, Colorado, also had a ridership increase of 8.1% in the second quarter, topping previous records. Seattle is at another high point, with more people choosing the five-year-old light rail line and ridership increasing 17% in the quarter. This triumph marks 20 consecutive quarters of significant growth.
Lynx light rail, Charlotte, NC by James Willamor | CC BY-SA 2.0 license
More examples from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA):
“Capital District Transportation Authority (Albany, NY), Spokane Transit (Spokane, WA) and Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (Canton, OH), saw quarterly record ridership numbers, as did San Mateo County’s commuter rail line Caltrain (San Carlos, CA). The Long Island Rail Road (New York, NY) saw the highest ridership for the month of June since June 2008 when gas prices were very high.”
ATPA partly attributes ridership increases to the high cost of gas nationally. Perhaps it is also due to people wanting to make more environmentally friendly changes and leave their gas guzzlers at home. One stat indicated that people are choosing public transit without the cudgel of prohibitive gas prices pushing them out of their cars. Many are enjoying good mobility free from environmental concerns, and who really wants to be stuck in traffic? In any case, change is what we find and more mass transit means fewer emissions.
According to the ATPA the 2014 Second Quarter Ridership Breakdown: “(Nationally) Heavy rail ridership increased by 3.2 percent. Cities showing the highest percentage of heavy rail increases: Boston, MA (7.0%); Chicago, IL (5.5%); New York, NY-MTA New York City Transit (3.9%); New York, NY-MTA Staten Island Railway (2.9%); Cleveland, OH (2.8%); and San Francisco, CA (2.0%).”
Light rail ridership increased by 2.8 percent: “Oceanside, CA saw a triple digit increase of 160% since the system was shut down from March-May 2013. Light rail systems in the following cities saw double-digit increases in the second quarter: San Diego, CA (28.8%) Minneapolis, MN (16.5%); Seattle, WA (14.4%); and Houston, TX (13.0%). Other light rail systems also showed the significant percentage of increases in the following cities: Denver, CO (8.1%); Charlotte, NC (7.1%); Salt Lake City, UT (6.8%); Newark, NJ (5.2%); and Hampton, VA (4.4%).”
Image: mass transit in Portland, Oregon via Shutterstock
Furthermore, ridership on commuter rail systems increased by 3.1% in the second quarter: “Double digit increases in the second quarter of 2014 in the following cities: Salt Lake City, UT (18.6%); Stockton, CA (17.0%); Lewisville, TX (15.5%); Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX (13.4%); Portland, OR (12.2%); and San Carlos, CA (10.0%). A ridership increase on light rail in the second quarter: Seattle, WA (7.4%); Anchorage, AK (6.9%); Boston, MA (6.0%); Oceanside, CA (5.7%); Newark, NJ (5.6%); and Austin, TX (3.3%).”
Bus ridership lost ridership slightly by 1.2%, with the exception of cities with populations of less than two million, where bus ridership increased.
For more info on how much people who ride transit are saving in the 20 cities with the highest public transit ridership, check out our previous article: Public Transportation In US Now Better Deal Than Ever, Thanks To Seemingly Ever-Rising Gas Prices.
“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities. People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.
“Access to public transportation matters,” continued Melaniphy. “Community leaders know that public transportation investment drives community growth and economic revitalization.”
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