The numbers are in and it’s safe to say 2013 was a fantastic year for public transportation. If you’re one of the many (and we really do mean many) people who rode a bus, train, trolleybus, or subway in the past year, then it’s time to celebrate.
Recently, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shared that at 10.7 billion trips reported in 2013, public transportation ridership has reached the highest level since 1956. This was the eighth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide. While vehicle miles traveled on roads (VMT) went up 0.3 percent, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1 percent.
“Last year people took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation. As the highest annual ridership number since 1956, Americans in growing numbers want to have more public transit services in their communities,” said Peter Varga, APTA Chair and CEO of The Rapid. “Public transportation systems nationwide – in small, medium, and large communities – saw ridership increases. Some reported all-time high ridership numbers.”
Aside from our one-year ridership record, some of the other public transit agencies reporting record ridership system-wide or on specific lines were located in the following cities: Ann Arbor, MI; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Espanola, NM; Flagstaff, AZ; Fort Myers, FL; and Indianapolis, IN.
To add some perspective, public transit ridership is up 37.2 percent since 1995, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3 percent, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which is up 22.7 percent.
“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities. People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.
There are likely a number of factors in play when it comes to growing ridership across the nation. Economic recovery, increasingly carless households, and the improvement in employment rates are all valid areas to note. In fact, 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes.
Read the full press release from APTA to find the entire ridership report and other insight here.
What do you think are some of the major factors accounting for public transit ridership growth across the U.S.? Share your thoughts in the comments!