Nearly 2.6 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the first quarter of 2015, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This ridership is slightly less than the 2014 ridership with a decrease of less than one percent (0.7%).
“On a national level, public transit ridership was basically flat for the first quarter of 2015, although increases were seen on heavy rail (subways) and commuter rail,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “A very cold and snowy winter and lower gas prices impacted public transportation use. The winter was colder than the one in 2014 and in New England the snowfall amounts reached historic proportions.”
In addition to severe winter weather, lower gas prices contributed to less public transit ridership use. Nationally, the average price of gas during the first quarter of 2015 was $2.37. This quarterly gas average was $1.12 lower than the 2014 first quarter national average, a drop of 32 percent.
2015 First Quarter Ridership Breakdown
In the 2015 first quarter, eight out of 15 heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) systems reported ridership increases as heavy rail ridership increased by 0.6 percent nationwide. The heavy rail systems with first quarter increases in ridership were in the following cities: Atlanta, GA (5.5%); San Francisco, CA (5.1%); Miami, FL (1.5%); and Philadelphia, PA (1.0%); New York, NY-MTA New York City Transit (0.9%); Cleveland, OH (0.8%); Washington, DC (0.5%); and Jersey City, NJ-Port Authority of NY & NJ (0.4%).
Nationally, commuter rail ridership increased by 0.6 percent in the first three months of 2015 with 15 of 28 commuter rail systems reporting ridership increases. Two commuter rail systems in the following cities saw double-digit increases in the first quarter: Seattle, WA-Sound Transit (17.4%) and Austin, TX (11.0%). Commuter rail ridership in the following cities also saw increases for the first quarter of 2015: San Carlos, CA (8.2%); Harrisburg-Philadelphia, PA (7.6%); Stockton, CA (6.1%); Oakland, CA (4.5%); New York, NY-MTA Long Island Railroad (3.9%); Salt Lake City, UT (3.6%); Chesterton, IN (3.3%); Newark, NJ (2.8%); Nashville, TN (2.5%); Philadelphia, PA (2.3%); Alexandria, VA (2.2%); Chicago, IL (1.0%); and New York, NY-Metro North Railroad (0.6%).
Nationally, light rail (modern streetcars, streetcars, and heritage trolleys) ridership decreased by 1.0 percent in the first quarter of 2015. Thirteen of 28 light rail systems reported ridership increases. Light rail in Minneapolis, MN saw triple digit increases (151.0%) due to a new line opening in June 2014. Two light rail systems in the following cities saw double-digit increases in the first quarter: New Orleans, LA (14.7%) and Tampa, FL (11.0%). Light rail ridership in the following cities also saw increases for the first quarter of 2015: Buffalo, NY (9.2%); Oceanside, CA (8.4%); Seattle, WA (6.1%); Houston, TX (3.8%); Phoenix, AZ (2.3%); San Diego, CA (1.8%); and Newark, NJ (1.2%); San Jose, CA (1.2%); Denver, CO (1.1%); and Portland, OR (1.0%).
Large bus systems reported a decrease of 1.7 percent nationally, with 14 of 38 large bus systems reporting ridership increases. The system in Santa Monica, CA saw a double digit ridership increase of 13.2 percent for the first quarter. Large bus systems in the following cities also showed ridership increases in the first quarter: Las Vegas, NV (9.5%); Atlanta, GA (8.8%); San Diego, CA (7.2%); Pittsburgh, PA (6.5%); Portland, OR (3.5%); Baltimore, MD (3.3%); and Seattle, WA-King County DOT (1.5%); San Jose, CA (1.1%); Columbus, OH (0.9%); Rockville, MD (0.8%); Denver, CO (0.5%); Philadelphia, PA (0.5%); and Newark, NJ (0.1%).
Demand response (paratransit) ridership increased by 1.6 percent and trolleybus ridership decreased 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 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.