As flip flops and shorts replace suits and ties, you know summer is here. And while many flock to beaches and cabins in the woods, 104 million people are planning a trip to the city. That is one third of Americans who will be hitting the streets of a city near you. Of those who plan to visit a city, nearly 60 percent (57 percent) or 62 million people nationwide plan to use local public transportation on their vacation this summer, according to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) 2012 “Travel like a Local” Summer Travel Survey.
The survey, conducted in mid-May, shows that cost and convenience are two strong factors that will motivate city visitors to use public transportation. Among those travelers who will be using public transportation during their city trips, 71 percent said using public transportation relieves them from the worry of finding parking for their vehicle, while 68 percent believe that it is less expensive than taxis and rental cars. Sixty-seven percent will use public transportation to save money on parking and 52 percent responded they can save money on gas for their vehicle.
Travel experts at AAA note that this year Americans will be staying closer to home and the APTA survey reveals that heading to a city this summer will be a prime destination. The survey also notes the top ten city destinations.
Number of Visitors in Millions
|| San Francisco
| Washington, D.C.
|| Las Vegas
| New York City
| Los Angeles
|| St. Louis
“Savvy travelers know the best way to get around any city is how the locals do, hopping on a train or bus to save money, while avoiding the hassle of driving and parking a car in a downtown area,” said Michael Melaniphy, APTA President and CEO. “Most public transportation systems have high frequency routes that are designed to stop at the most popular spots and attractions a city has to offer.”
Forty-two percent of city vacationers will use public transportation to sightsee, 31 percent will take a train or bus when dining or heading out for a night on the town and 28 percent will use it for shopping. Twenty-nine percent will travel to and from their place of lodging, while 28 percent will use public transportation to travel to and from the airport during their visit.
According to the survey, those who will use public transit during their travel to a city this summer feel it will have a positive impact on their travel experience. Nearly 60 percent (59 percent) feel they can avoid driving around unfamiliar cities while almost half (45 percent) of respondents believe public transportation makes travel overall more affordable, and 28 percent will use public transportation for the fun of it.
“With millions of Americans vacationing in cities this year,” said Melaniphy, “it is important we continue to support and expand our nation’s public transportation systems as it plays a major role in tourism which is the backbone of local economies in many cities.”
To assist city travelers this summer, APTA is providing tips on how to “travel like a local.” In addition, APTA is reaching out to city travelers through a nationwide contest via social media to share their experiences and the benefits of using public transit. The contest will be launched on June 1. Visit www.publictransportation.org next week for complete details.
The APTA 2012 “Travel like a Local” Summer Travel Survey was conducted by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence and includes 1,007 interviews using a Random Digit Dial sample of both landline and cell phone numbers. At the 95% confidence level, the margin of error is +/-3.2 percentage points.
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of nearly 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services, and high-speed rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA member systems.
Tips for City Visitors to “Travel like a Local” on Public Transportation
1) Visit www.publictransportation.org to find out information on the local public transit system in the city you will be visiting.
2) Use the system’s trip planner, or www.google.com/transit to plan your routes.
3) Choose a hotel near a public transit line; you can eliminate or significantly reduce your need for a car during your trip.
4) If arriving by plane or train, look for ways to use local public transit to get from the airport or train station into the heart of the city- this is usually significantly cheaper than a taxi and you can check out what’s going on in the city rather than worrying about which turn to make.
5) Consider buying a day or week pass rather than paying by the trip. These passes are often more affordable, and allow you to get to your destinations quicker since you won’t have to stop and pay a fare each time you ride.
6) Utilize that smart phone. Many systems have apps available that make using their systems even easier; helping you locate stops on a map, telling you when the next train or bus is coming- it’s like having a personal assistant.
7) Travel off-peak to avoid the crowds. You will also avoid making all the worker bees jealous of your care-free vacation mode demeanor.
8) Wear comfortable commuter shoes – fashionable ones of course. Remember you will be doing some walking and getting exercise as you visit the sites.
9) Don’t be afraid to ask. The drivers and staff are there to help you, and most fellow passengers are happy to help as well.
10) Have Fun! You’re on vacation after all. Use the time you are riding to your next destination to plan where to dine, what exhibit to see, or what to do next.
Bonus Tip: Travel and Win! Don’t forget to enter the “Travel like a Local” contest beginning on June 1 on www.publictransportation.org. Special prizes are waiting for you.