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American Public Transportation Association

 Transit News



Virginia Miller

 Nearly 2.6 Billion Trips Taken on U.S. Public Transit in First Quarter


Nationally, nearly 2.6 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the first quarter of 2013, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).  While this marked a decline of 1.9 percent from the 2012 first quarter, the 2013 first quarter ridership was 2.5 percent higher than the first quarter in 2011.

“Despite this small decrease, demand and support for public transportation remains strong,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy, who noted that last year’s state and local public transit ballot initiatives passed by nearly 80 percent.

Melaniphy also noted that last year’s first quarter ridership surged by 5.0 percent, in part because of a spike in high gas prices.  Last year’s first quarter also included the leap-year day of February 29, resulting in an extra weekday in the 2012 first quarter.  According to APTA analysis, one extra weekday contributes to an increase of 1.4 percent in ridership, which is close to the 2013 first quarter’s total decline percentage.

In the first quarter, some cities saw ridership increases due to economic recovery.  They include Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Houston, TX; Phoenix, AZ; Champaign-Urbana, IL; Miami, FL; New Orleans, LA; Chapel Hill, NC; and Ithaca, NY.

“Ridership continues to grow in those areas where the economy is recovering and jobs are increasing,” said Melaniphy, noting that nearly 60 percent of trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes.

To see the complete APTA 2013 ridership report, go to:

2013 First Quarter Ridership Breakdown

Nationally, light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) ridership decreased by 1.3 percent in the first quarter of 2013.  Twelve of twenty-eight light rail systems reported ridership increases. Five light rail systems saw double digit increases in the first quarter: Los Angeles, CA (17.9%); Hampton, VA (17.6%); Pittsburgh, PA (13.3%); Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (10.5%); and Seattle, WA – King County DOT (10.4%).  Additional cities that showed ridership increases above 5.0 percent from January 2013 through March 2013 were in the following cities: Dallas, TX (7.1%); and Philadelphia, PA (7.0%).

In the 2013 first quarter, four out of fifteen heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) systems reported ridership increases.  Overall, heavy rail ridership decreased by 1.7 percent nationwide.  The four heavy rail systems with first quarter increases in ridership were in the following cities: Miami, FL (10.4%); Los Angeles, CA (5.6%); San Francisco, CA (4.4%); and Cleveland, OH (3.0%).

Nationally, commuter rail ridership decreased by 0.8 percent in the first three months of 2013 with fourteen of twenty-eight commuter rail systems reporting ridership increases.  Due to opening a large extension to the south of the city, Salt Lake City, UT saw a triple digit increase of 115.4%.  Six commuter rail systems in the following cities saw double digit increases in the first quarter: Austin, TX (94.0%); Anchorage, AK (60.9%); Lewisville, TX (38.9%); Stockton, CA (21.3%); Minneapolis, MN (14.5%); and Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (11.6%).  The three commuter rail systems that reported the next highest increases were located in: San Carlos, CA (9.9%); Harrisburg-Philadelphia, PA (7.1%); and Pompano Beach, FL (5.5%).

Bus ridership decreased nationally by 2.2 percent.  Large bus systems reported a decrease of 2.6 percent nationally, with eight of thirty-eight large bus systems reporting ridership increases.  Large bus systems in the following cities showed the top increases: Cincinnati, OH (9.5%); Phoenix, AZ (4.3%); and Seattle, WA – King County DOT (3.5%).

Bus ridership in urbanized areas with populations below 100,000 grew at 0.5 percent and bus ridership grew by 0.02 percent in urbanized areas with populations from 100,000 to 499,999.

Demand response (paratransit) ridership decreased by 3.5 percent and trolleybus ridership decreased by 2.3 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.

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