Public transportation ridership surged in the first quarter of 2012, as Americans took nearly 2.7 billion trips, an increase of 5.0% over the first quarter of last year, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This was the fifth consecutive quarter of U.S. public transit ridership increase, as 125.7 million more trips were taken than the first quarter of 2011.
All public transit modes saw increases and several saw significantly high increases. Light rail use increased by 6.7 percent and heavy rail use increased by 5.5 percent. Some public transit systems throughout all the areas of the United States reported record ridership for the first quarter. (i.e. Ann Arbor, MI; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Fort Myers, FL; Indianapolis, IN; Ithaca, NY; New York, NY; Oakland, CA; Olympia, WA; San Diego, CA; and Tampa, FL).
“High gas prices were part of the reason for this large first quarter ridership increase,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “More and more people are choosing to save money by taking public transportation when gas prices are high.
“As we look for positive signs that the economy is recovering, it’s great to see that we are having record ridership at public transit systems throughout the country. In some regions of our nation, the local economy is rebounding and people are commuting to their new jobs by using public transportation,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy, noting that nearly 60 percent of trips taken on public transit are for work commutes.
Pointing out that there are multiple reasons for the high ridership increases in the first quarter, Melaniphy said, “There are a number of reasons why more Americans are using public transportation. For example, public transportation systems are delivering better, reliable service and the use of real time technology, which many systems use, makes it easy for riders to know when the next bus or train will arrive.
“As Congress is negotiating a federal surface transportation bill that is now more than 2 1/2 years overdue, our federal representatives need to act before the June 30 deadline to ensure that public transportation systems will be able to meet the growing demand,” said Melaniphy. “It’s obvious from the surge in public transit ridership in the first quarter that Americans need and want public transportation.”
To see the complete APTA 2011 ridership report, go to: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/Ridership/2012-q1-ridership-APTA.pdf
2012 First Quarter Ridership Breakdown
Nationally, light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) ridership increased 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Twenty-five of twenty-seven light rail systems reported ridership increases. The ten light rail systems with the highest rates of growth were located in the following cities: Memphis, TN (45.7%); Salt Lake City, UT (34.1%); Seattle, WA – King County DOT (19.4%); Boston, MA (12.6%); Cleveland, OH (10.7%); Houston, TX (10.3%); Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (10.3%); Los Angeles, CA (9.9%); Sacramento, CA (8.5%); and St. Louis, MO (8.2%).
Fourteen out of fifteen heavy rail heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) systems reported ridership increases. Overall, heavy rail ridership increased by 5.5 percent nationwide. The ten heavy rail systems with the highest first quarter increases in ridership were in the following cities: Cleveland, OH (12.2%); San Francisco, CA (9.7%); Chicago, IL (8.9%); Baltimore, MD (7.8%); Boston, MA (6.4%); Jersey City, NJ (6.1%); New York, NY – MTA New York City Transit (5.6%); Lindenwold, NJ (4.7%); New York, NY – MTA Staten Island Railway (4.5%); and Miami, FL (4.2%).
Nationally, commuter rail ridership increased by 3.9 percent in the first three months of 2012 with twenty-two of twenty-seven commuter rail systems reporting ridership increases. Five commuter rail systems in the following cities saw double digit increases in the first quarter: Anchorage, AK (43.8%); Oceanside, CA (19.2%); San Carlos, CA (15.0%); Portland, OR (11.1%); and Seattle, WA (10.8%). The five commuter rail systems that reported the next highest increases were located in: New Haven, CT (9.7%); Stockton, CA (9.4%); Los Angeles, CA (8.9%); Salt Lake City, UT (8.5%); and Nashville, TN (8.4%).
Large bus systems reported an increase of 4.6 percent nationally. Bus systems in the following cities showed the top ten increases: Saint Louis, MO (15.6%); Dallas, TX (11.9%); Arlington Heights, IL (11.1%); Boston, MA (10.6%); Oakland, CA (10.5%); Ft. Lauderdale, FL (8.7%); Newark, NJ (8.0%); San Antonio, TX (8.0%); Washington, DC (7.9%). and Cleveland, OH (7.8%).
Bus systems in urbanized areas with populations of two million or more grew at 4.5 percent. Growing at an even higher rate of 5.1 percent were bus systems in urbanized areas with populations of 500,000 to just under two million.
Demand response (paratransit) ridership increased by 7.0 percent and trolleybus ridership increased by 3.8 percent.
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity 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.