Research Rest-Stop │ APTA 2011 Report: Trips on U.S. Public Transportation Increasing

Every Wednesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) highlights some interesting research related to or innovations in transportation, sustainability, or energy.

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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has released its annual report on public transit ridership. The report announces that, in 2011, Americans traveled by public transportation extensively, taking 10.4 billion trips over the past year. This is the second highest annual ridership for public transportation since 1957. In addition, last year’s numbers continue a pattern that has occurred for the past six years in which more than 10 billion trips by public transportation nationwide were recorded annually. At the same time that public transit ridership increased in 2011, vehicle miles of travel (VMTs) decreased by 1.2 percent.

In a recent press release, APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy discusses potential reasons for the increase in public transit ridership. He notes, “ ‘Two top reasons for the increased ridership are higher gas prices and in certain areas, a recovering economy with more people returning to work. Since nearly sixty percent of trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, it’s not surprising to see ridership increase in areas where the economy has improved.’ ”

APTA’s report also provides ridership numbers by city. Particular Philadelphia facts from the report include:

  •  An increase of 9.6% in ridership for Philadelphia’s light rail system, including trolleys; and
  • An increase of 4.7% in ridership for the city’s subways.

This trend of increased ridership is continuing into 2012 too. In January 2012 alone, SEPTA saw ridership growth of 6%. Time will tell if 2012 will continue the trend for public transit growth as the last six years have shown.

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