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American Public Transportation Association

 Transit News



Virginia Miller
(202) 496-4816

 More Than 7.9 Billion Trips Taken On Public Transportation As Ridership Increased by 2.6% in First Three Quarters of 2012

 Seven Consecutive Quarters of Ridership Increases Show Growing Demand

More than 7.9 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the first three quarters of 2012 as ridership increased by 2.6 percent over the first three quarters of 2011, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).  This report shows that 201 million more trips were taken in the first nine months of 2012 than in the same time period in 2011. 

“With seven consecutive quarters of ridership increases, it’s obvious that public demand for public transit is growing,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “As Congress works to resolve our country’s deficit problem, it also needs to work to resolve the transportation deficit.  Otherwise public transit and highway funding will be facing an annual $15 billion shortfall in the next 10 years.”

Mobility is an important reason to have a strong public transportation system. However, public transportation also has a critical connection to the economy.  For every $1 billion invested in public transportation 36,000 jobs are created and supported.  Additionally, public transportation plays an important role in providing access to jobs.

“We continue to see that in areas where the local economy is improving and new jobs are being added, public transportation ridership is up,” said Melaniphy.  “This makes sense since nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes.  Public transit service is an important resource for employees and employers as it is instrumental in helping people travel to their jobs.”

Some of the cities experiencing economic improvements and public transit ridership increases in the third quarter of 2012 include: Grand Rapids (MI); Seattle (WA); St. Petersburg (FL); Phoenix (AZ); San Francisco (CA); Los Angeles (CA); and Riverside (CA).

All major modes of public transportation increased from January through September this year.  Light rail and heavy rail saw the largest increases in the first nine months with increases of 4.2 percent and 3.6 percent respectively.  

January – September  2012 Ridership Breakdown
Nationally, heavy rail ridership increased by 3.6  percent and 12 out of 15 heavy rail systems (subways and elevated trains) experienced ridership increases in the first nine months of 2012.  The heavy rail systems with the highest increases in ridership for the first nine months of 2012 were in the following cities: Cleveland, OH (10.8%); San Francisco, CA (7.4%); Chicago, IL (4.9%); Baltimore, MD (4.4%); and New York, NY (4.4%).

Light rail ridership increased by 4.2 percent from January through September, as 22 out of 28 light rail systems reported increases in ridership.  Hampton, VA experienced a triple digit increase due to new service.  Light rail systems saw double digit increases in the first three quarters in five cities: Memphis, TN (33.7%); Salt Lake City, UT (19.7%); Los Angeles, CA (13.7%); Pittsburgh, PA (13.5%); and Seattle, WA (11.2%).  Other light rail systems with increases were in the following cities: Sacramento, CA (6.8%); Boston, MA (6.2%); Houston, TX (6.1%); and Seattle, WA (5.5%).

Nineteen out of 28 commuter rail systems reported ridership increases and commuter rail ridership grew by 2.4 percent in the first three quarters of 2012.  Commuter rail ridership saw double digit increases in the following cities: Austin, TX (15.6%); San Carlos, CA (12.3%); and Seattle, WA (10.2%).  Other commuter rail systems showing high increases were located in the following cities: Stockton, CA (9.7%); Portland, OR (8.0%); Baltimore, MD (6.9%); Harrisburg-Philadelphia, PA (6.1%); Portland, ME (5.9%); Los Angeles, CA (5.6%); and Newark, NJ (5.2%).

Nationally, bus ridership rose by 1.8 percent from January through September of 2012, with 28 out of 37 large bus systems reporting increases.  Some of the highest bus ridership increases in large cities were reported in: Saint Louis, MO (8.6%); Arlington Heights, IL (5.3%); Newark, NJ (5.2%); and Oakland, CA (5.0%).

Demand response (paratransit) increased by 3.6 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 organization which represent a $68 billion industry that directly employs 420,000 people and supports millions of private sector jobs. APTA members are 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.


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