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American Public Transportation Association

 Transit News



Virginia Miller
(202) 496-4816

 Third Quarter 2010 Public Transit Ridership Declines Slightly


Nationally, nearly 2.5 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the third quarter of 2010, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).  Despite continued high unemployment, public transportation use in the third quarter declined by less than 1 percent (.67%) compared to the same quarter last year.   Subways and bus service in small communities experienced ridership increases for the third quarter compared to last year.

“Since nearly 60 percent of public transit trips are work-related commuter trips, public transit ridership continues to be impacted by the ups and downs of the economy and persistent high unemployment,” said APTA President William Millar.  “Additionally, ridership has declined because many transit systems have been forced to raise fares and/or cut service as the result of reduced state and local revenue.” 

2010 Third Quarter Ridership Breakdown

Nationally, heavy rail ridership increased by 1.7 percent.  Eleven out of 15 heavy rail systems (subways and elevated trains) experienced ridership increases in the third quarter of 2010 over the same period in 2009.  The heavy rail systems with the highest increases in ridership for 2010 were in the following cities: San Juan, PR (9.9%); Baltimore, MD (7.2%); and New York, NY/ MTA Staten Island Railway (6.3%). 

Thirteen out of 27 light rail systems reported an increase in ridership for the third quarter of 2010.  Overall, light rail decreased by 0.2 percent in the third quarter of 2010.  Light rail systems in five cities saw double digit increases in the third quarter:  New Orleans, LA (61%); Seattle, WA/ Sound Transit (57.2%); Seattle, WA/ King County Department of Transportation (16.9%); Phoenix, AZ (14.1%); and Portland, OR (12.9%).  Other light rail systems showing increases were located in the following cities:  Los Angeles, CA (9.1%) and Minneapolis, MN (8.8%).

Fourteen out of 27 commuter rail systems reported ridership increases. Cities with commuter rail increases:  Portland, OR (21.2%), Salt Lake City, UT (15.2%); New Haven, CT/ Connecticut DOT (12.6%); Alexandria, VA (8.4%); and Harrisburg, PA (6.1%).  Nationally, commuter rail ridership declined by 1.1 percent in the third quarter of 2010. 

Bus ridership decreased nationally by 2.2 percent.  Increases among large bus systems for the third quarter of 2010 were reported in the following locations:  St. Louis, MO (9.8%) and Boston, MA (2.2%).  Small bus systems with populations below 100,000 saw an increase for three consecutive quarters (3.3%). Increases among small bus systems include: Flagstaff, AZ (17.5%); Ithaca, NY (10.8%); and Davis, CA (10.7%);

Demand response (paratransit) increased in the third quarter of 2010 by 1.1 percent.


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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organization which represent a $68 billion industry that directly employs 420,000 people and supports millions of private sector jobs. APTA members are engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.

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