Nearly 2.6 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the first quarter of 2014, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Even though overall ridership declined 0.7 percent from the 2013 first quarter, ridership in all the rail modes and bus ridership in small communities posted increases. Light rail ridership saw the largest increase at 3.2 percent. Ridership on heavy rail (subways and elevated rail) ridership increased by 1.8 percent and commuter rail ridership went up by 1.1 percent. Bus ridership in communities with populations of less than 100,000 increased by 2.1 percent.
“While there was a small decrease in ridership nationally, ridership on rail (light rail, subways, and commuter rail) increased nationally,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Also, bus ridership in small communities increased by 2.1 percent. Public transportation is a vital service for communities of all sizes across the country, contributing to economic growth and development and quality of life.”
In the first quarter some cities saw ridership increases due to economic recovery, as new jobs were added and unemployment decreased. Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, and Salt Lake City are examples of cities that saw ridership growth in part due to economic growth.
“Since nearly 60 percent of trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, it’s not surprising to see ridership increases in cities where the economy is improving and more jobs are available,” said Melaniphy.
Some public transportation systems reported record first quarter ridership in the following cities: Albany, NY; Seattle, WA; Stockton, CA; and Yuma, AZ.
Melaniphy also noted that in the first quarter there were major winter weather events that negatively impacted public transit ridership in communities across the nation. For example, in Washington, DC, the federal government, the largest employer in the area, closed for four working days and many other employers also shut down on these days.
In addition to severe winter weather, lower gas prices contributed to less public transit ridership. Gas prices overall were 15 cents lower than in the first quarter of 2013. In past years, high volatile gas prices have led many people to save money by taking public transportation instead of driving.
To see the complete APTA 2014 ridership report, go to: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/Ridership/2014-q1-ridership-APTA.pdf
2014 First Quarter Ridership Breakdown
Nationally, light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) ridership increased by 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014. Thirteen of 28 light rail systems reported ridership increases. Six light rail systems saw double-digit increases in the first quarter in the following cities: San Diego, CA (45.1%); Oceanside, CA (37.8%); Denver, CO (26.7%); Houston, TX (13.4%); Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (12.6%); and Salt Lake City, UT (11.7%). Additional cities that showed light rail ridership increases above 2 percent from January 2014 through March 2014 were in the following cities: New Orleans, LA (7.9%); San Francisco, CA (4.3%); Phoenix, AZ (3.9%); and San Jose, CA (2.1%).
In the 2014 first quarter, seven out of 15 heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) systems reported ridership increases as heavy rail ridership increased by 1.8 percent nationwide. The heavy rail systems with first quarter increases in ridership were in the following areas: State of New Jersey - PATH (4.5%); Miami, FL (3.6%); Chicago, IL (3.5%); New York, NY - MTA (3.3%); Boston, MA (2.4%); New York, NY – Staten Island Railway (2.2%), and San Francisco, CA (1.2%).
Nationally, commuter rail ridership increased by 1.1 percent in the first three months of 2014 with 16 of 28 commuter rail systems reporting ridership increases. Six commuter rail systems in the following cities saw double-digit increases in the first quarter: Harrisburg-Philadelphia, PA (98.7%); Portland, OR (18.3%); Salt Lake City, UT (18.3%); Stockton, CA (17.3%); Lewisville, TX (11.9%); and Anchorage, AK (10.8%). The commuter rail systems that reported increases above 3 percent were located in: San Carlos, CA (8.6%); Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX (7.7%); Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (7.0%); State of New Jersey – NJ Transit (4.9%); Boston, MA (4.6%); Oceanside, CA (4.1%); and Pompano Beach, FL (3.4%).
While bus ridership decreased nationally by 2.9 percent, bus ridership in small communities saw a 2.1 percent increase. Large bus systems reported a decrease of 3.7 percent nationally, with 11 of 37 large bus systems reporting ridership increases. Large bus systems in the following cities showed the top increases: Oakland, CA (5.0%); San Francisco (4.7%); Long Beach, CA (3.5%); and Seattle, WA – King County DOT (2.1%).
Demand response (paratransit) ridership decreased by 1.0 percent and trolleybus ridership decreased 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 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.