Public transportation ridership rose 5% to nearly 2.7 billion trips in the first quarter of 2012 over the first quarter of last year, according to a report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This was the fifth consecutive quarter of US public transit ridership increase, as 125.7 million more trips were taken than the first quarter of 2011.
All public transit modes saw increases and several saw significantly high increases. Some public transit systems throughout all the areas of the United States reported record ridership for the first quarter. (Ann Arbor, MI; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Fort Myers, FL; Indianapolis, IN; Ithaca, NY; New York, NY; Oakland, CA; Olympia, WA; San Diego, CA; and Tampa, FL).
Nationally, light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) ridership increased 6.7% in the first quarter of 2012. Twenty-five of twenty-seven light rail systems reported ridership increases. The ten light rail systems with the highest rates of growth were located in the following cities: Memphis, TN (45.7%); Salt Lake City, UT (34.1%); Seattle, WA – King County DOT (19.4%); Boston, MA (12.6%); Cleveland, OH (10.7%); Houston, TX (10.3%); Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (10.3%); Los Angeles, CA (9.9%); Sacramento, CA (8.5%); and St. Louis, MO (8.2%).
Fourteen out of fifteen heavy rail heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) systems reported ridership increases. Overall, heavy rail ridership increased by 5.5% nationwide. The ten heavy rail systems with the highest first quarter increases in ridership were in the following cities: Cleveland, OH (12.2%); San Francisco, CA (9.7%); Chicago, IL (8.9%); Baltimore, MD (7.8%); Boston, MA (6.4%); Jersey City, NJ (6.1%); New York, NY – MTA New York City Transit (5.6%); Lindenwold, NJ (4.7%); New York, NY – MTA Staten Island Railway (4.5%); and Miami, FL (4.2%).
Nationally, commuter rail ridership increased by 3.9% in the first three months of 2012 with twenty-two of twenty-seven commuter rail systems reporting ridership increases. Five commuter rail systems in the following cities saw double digit increases in the first quarter: Anchorage, AK (43.8%); Oceanside, CA (19.2%); San Carlos, CA (15.0%); Portland, OR (11.1%); and Seattle, WA (10.8%). The five commuter rail systems that reported the next highest increases were located in: New Haven, CT (9.7%); Stockton, CA (9.4%); Los Angeles, CA (8.9%); Salt Lake City, UT (8.5%); and Nashville, TN (8.4%).
Large bus systems reported an increase of 4.6 percent nationally. Bus systems in the following cities showed the top ten increases: Saint Louis, MO (15.6%); Dallas, TX (11.9%); Arlington Heights, IL (11.1%); Boston, MA (10.6%); Oakland, CA (10.5%); Ft. Lauderdale, FL (8.7%); Newark, NJ (8.0%); San Antonio, TX (8.0%); Washington, DC (7.9%). and Cleveland, OH (7.8%).
Bus systems in urbanized areas with populations of two million or more grew at 4.5%. Growing at an even higher rate of 5.1% were bus systems in urbanized areas with populations of 500,000 to just under two million.
Demand response (paratransit) ridership increased by 7.0% and trolleybus ridership increased by 3.8%.