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American Public Transportation Association

 Transit News



Virginia Miller

 More than 2.7 Billion Trips Taken on Public Transportation in 2014 Third Quarter

 Higher Ridership Than Last Year’s Record Ridership

More than 2.7 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the third quarter of 2014, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).  This is a 1.8 percent increase over the same quarter last year, representing an increase of more than 48 million trips and the highest third quarter ridership since 1974 (the oldest third quarter APTA has available for comparison).

Some public transit systems that reported record third quarter ridership for their entire system or for a specific line are located in the following cities:  Albany, NY; Ann Arbor, MI; Birmingham, AL; Denver, CO; Minneapolis, MN; New York City (Metro North), NY; Oakland, CA; St. Petersburg, FL; Peoria, IL; Seattle,WA; and Wenatchee, WA.

Noting that ridership on U.S. public transportation has increased in 12 of the last 15 quarters, APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said, “There are a number of reasons why public transportation ridership is on the rise.  First, the investment in public transportation by the federal government has paid off with new rail and bus rapid transit lines or extensions that have opened up in recent years.  These new services have not only created greater access for people to use public transit, but have led to economic development that has transformed and revitalized the community. Public transportation is not just moving people, but also positively shaping the communities we live in.

“A second reason for increased ridership is that people are affirmatively responding to the quality of public transportation that is now available,” said Melaniphy.  “For example, some public transit systems have increased their frequency of service and have modernized their vehicle fleets.  Additionally, with the use of apps and real time information at stations, riders can easily find out when the next bus or train will arrive.  Technology has made riding public transportation more convenient and easier to use.

“Additionally,  the economy is recovering and since nearly 60 percent of public transit trips are taken to travel for work commutes, public transportation ridership has increased in cities where the economy has improved,” said Melaniphy.

The following cities are some examples of areas with higher employment and public transit ridership for the third quarter:  Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Champaign-Urbana, IL; Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Minneapolis, MN; Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; San Francisco, CA, and Seattle, WA.

“High and volatile gas prices have played a part over the past nine years in convincing people to try public transportation,” said Melaniphy. “Now that gas prices are declining, many people are still choosing to ride public transportation.  They have discovered that there are other benefits to taking public transit besides saving money.”

2014 Third Quarter Ridership Breakdown
Nationally, heavy rail ridership increased by 4.6 percent.  Eight out of fifteen heavy rail systems (subways and elevated trains) experienced ridership increases in the third quarter of 2014 over the same period in 2013.  Heavy rail systems in the following cities showed double digit increases in the third quarter: Atlanta, GA (10.4%) and San Francisco, CA (10.0%).  Other heavy rail systems showing significant increase percentages were located in the following cities: New York-MTA Staten Island Railway (7.5%); New York-MTA New York City Transit (5.2%); Boston, MA (5.1%); and Chicago, IL (4.9%).

Eighteen out of twenty-eight light rail systems reported an increase in ridership for the third quarter of 2014.  Overall, light rail increased by 3.2 percent in the third quarter of 2014.  Light rail systems in the following cities saw double digit increases in the third quarter:  Houston, TX (22.1%); Hampton, VA (16.8%); Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (14.1%); and Oceanside, CA (11.8%).  Other light rail systems showing significant percentage of increases were located in the following cities:  Buffalo, NY (9.1%); San Jose, CA (7.6%); Salt Lake City, UT (6.4%); Denver, CO (6.3%); Dallas, TX (6.1%); Charlotte, NC (5.1%); and New Orleans, LA (4.6%).

Twenty-three out of twenty-eight commuter rail systems reported ridership increases and overall commuter rail increased by 3.5 percent.  Commuter rail systems in the following cities saw double digit increases in the third quarter:  Stockton, CA (18.2%); Salt Lake City, UT (16.5%); Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (13.8%); and San Carlos, CA (10.7%).   Other commuter rail systems showing significant percentage of increases were located in the following cities:  Lewisville, TX (7.7%); Newark, NJ (6.7%); Nashville, TN (6.1%); Dallas-Ft. Worth (5.7%); Oceanside, CA (5.3%); and Anchorage, AK (4.7%); New York-MTA Metro North Railroad (2.7%); Philadelphia, PA (2.6%); Boston, MA (2.3%); New York-MTA Long Island Railroad (2.2%); and Los Angeles, CA (2.1%).

Bus ridership decreased nationally by 0.4 percent. In small and medium size population groups bus ridership saw increases and ridership on large bus systems declined by 0.8 percent. The following cities showed the highest large bus ridership increases in the third quarter:  Portland, OR (9.3%); Atlanta, GA (9.0%); Columbus, OH (7.3%); San Francisco, CA (5.3%); Cleveland, OH (3.4%); San Diego, CA (3.2%); Seattle, WA-King County DOT (2.5%); and Pittsburgh, PA (2.4%).

Demand response (paratransit) increased in the third quarter of 2014 by 1.3 percent.  Trolleybus ridership declined by 3.3 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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