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American Public Transportation Association

 Transit News



Virginia Miller

 Nearly 2.7 Billion Trips Taken on Public Transportation in 2013 Third Quarter In Large, Medium, and Small Communities Nationwide


Nearly 2.7 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the third quarter of 2013, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).  This is a 1.5 percent increase over the same quarter last year, representing an increase of more than 39 million trips. Ridership in all public transportation modes increased, led by light rail which increased by 3.1 percent.

Noting that in 9 of the last 11 quarters, ridership on U.S. public transportation has increased, APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said, “Public transportation ridership continued to grow across the country in large, medium, and small communities during the third quarter of 2013. This continued demand for public transportation demonstrates the value of public transit to individuals and the communities they live in, no matter their size.” 

“Some of the public transit systems with the largest ridership increases saw ridership spike as new lines and extensions were added to the existing system,” said Melaniphy.  “This shows that if you expand public transportation options with new services, additional people will decide to use public transportation.”

Utah Transit Authority (Salt Lake City, UT) saw a 13.4 percent increase in light rail ridership as extensions opened in April and August this year.  Regional Transportation District (Denver, CO) saw a 25.3 percent increase in light rail ridership as a new line opened last spring.  Light rail ridership on the Regional Transit Authority (New Orleans, LA) saw a 71.2 percent increase due to a new line that opened in January.  Miami-Dade Transit (Miami, FL) recorded an 11.1 percent increase in heavy rail ridership which was due primarily to increased service frequency, especially during peak service.  South Florida Regional Transportation Authority’s commuter rail, Tri-Rail (Pompano Beach, FL), saw a 9.7 percent ridership increase due in large part to increased weekend service.

Ridership increases were also due to factors such as high, volatile gas prices and recovering local economies.

“When gas prices are high and volatile, more people decide to try public transportation to save money,” said Melaniphy.  “Additionally, nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation in the United States are for work commutes. When a local economy rebounds with new jobs, public transportation ridership increases in that community.” 

2013 Third Quarter Ridership Breakdown
Nationally, heavy rail ridership increased by 2.4 percent.  Eight out of fifteen heavy rail systems (subways and elevated trains) experienced ridership increases in the third quarter of 2013 over the same period in 2012.  Heavy rail systems showing the highest percentage of increases were located in the following cities: Miami, FL (11.1%); Los Angeles, CA (7.5%); Cleveland, OH (5.7%); and New York, NY (3.3%).

Fourteen out of twenty-eight light rail systems reported an increase in ridership for the third quarter of 2013.  Overall, light rail increased by 3.1 percent in the third quarter of 2013.  Light rail systems in the following cities saw double digit increases in the third quarter:  New Orleans, LA (71.2%); Denver, CO (25.3%); Salt Lake City, UT (13.4%); and Pittsburgh, PA (10.2%)  Other light rail systems showing significant percentage of increases were located in the following cities:  Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (8.9%); Tampa, FL (8.1%); Saint Louis, MO (5.7%); Cleveland, OH (4.6%); and Newark, NJ (3.2%).

Twenty-two out of twenty-eight commuter rail systems reported ridership increases and overall commuter rail increased by 1.9 percent.  Utah Transit Authority (Salt Lake City, UT)) saw triple digit increases in the third quarter due to a new line opening in December 2012.  In the third quarter of 2013, the public transportation systems in the following eight cities saw double digit increases: Austin, TX (53.0%); Anchorage, AK (35.1%); Stockton, CA (26.7%); Lewisville, TX (22.7%); Portland, OR (15.4%); Minneapolis, MN (15.2%); Oceanside, CA (10.4%); and San Carlos, CA (10.3%).  The following cities also experienced an increase in the third quarter of 2013: Pompano Beach, FL (9.7%); Baltimore, MD (6.5%); New Haven, CT (5.4%); Dallas-Fort Worth, TX (4.6%); and Chicago, IL (2.6%).

Bus ridership increased nationally by 0.7 percent.  Large transit bus systems in the following cities showed increases in the third quarter:  Columbus, OH (7.4%); Houston, TX (7.4%); Arlington Heights, IL (5.5%); Providence, RI (4.5%); Cleveland, OH (4.4%); Saint Louis, MO (3.7%); Washington, DC (3.5%); and Los Angeles, CA (2.3%).

Demand response (paratransit) increased in the third quarter of 2013 by 2.2 percent.  Trolleybus ridership increased by 2.6 percent.

To see the complete APTA ridership report go to:

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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, 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.  More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.

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