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APTA reports record public transportation usage in US in 2013; growth outpacing population and VMT growth

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Growth in public transit ridership since 1995 has outpaced population and VMT growth. Data: APTA. Click to enlarge.

In 2013, Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation—the highest annual public transit ridership number in 57 years—according to a report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). 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%, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1%.

Since 1995 public transit ridership is up 37.2%, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3%, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which is up 22.7%.

Some of the 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; Indianapolis, IN; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oakland, CA; Pompano Beach, FL; Riverside, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Carlos, CA; Tampa, FL; Yuma, AZ; and New York, NY.

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. Access to public transportation matters. Community leaders know that public transportation investment drives community growth and economic revitalization. Another reason behind the ridership increases is the economic recovery in certain areas. When more people are employed, public transportation ridership increases since nearly 60% of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes.

—APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy

Heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) ridership increased by 2.8% across the country as 8 out of 15 transit systems reported increases. Heavy rail in Miami, FL, saw an increase of 10.6% that was mostly due to increased frequency during peak service. Other heavy rail systems with increases in ridership for 2013 were in the following cities: Los Angeles, CA (4.8%); New York, NY (4.2%); and Cleveland, OH (2.9%).

Nationally, commuter rail ridership increased by 2.1% in 2013 as 20 out of 28 transit systems reported increases. With a new rail line that opened in December 2012, commuter rail in Salt Lake City, UT, saw an increase of 103.3%. The following five commuter rail systems saw double digit increases in 2013: Austin, TX (37.3%); Harrisburg-Philadelphia, PA (33.9%); Anchorage, AK (30.0%); Lewisville, TX (23.0%); Stockton, CA (19.9%); Minneapolis, MN (12.5%); and Portland, OR (10.3%).

Light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) ridership increased 1.6% in 2013 with 17 out of 27 transit systems reporting increases. Systems that showed double digit increases in 2013 were located in the following cities: New Orleans, LA (28.9%); Denver, CO (14.9%); and San Diego, CA (10.4%). Ridership in the following cities also saw increases in 2013: Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (9.8%); Pittsburgh, PA (7.5%); Salt Lake City, UT (6.8%); Los Angeles, CA (6.0%); San Jose, CA (3.6%); and Philadelphia, PA (3.5%).

Bus ridership increased by 3.8% in cities with a population of below 100,000. Nationally, bus ridership in communities of all sizes remained stable, declining by 0.1%. Large bus systems with increases were located in the following areas: Washington, DC (3.5%); Houston, TX (3.4%); Cincinnati, OH (3.4%); and Seattle, WA (3.1%).

Demand response (paratransit) ridership increased in 2013 by 0.5%.

Comments

HarveyD

As the 97% gets poorer and poorer, they will ride public transportation and shared vehicles more and more. Many will simply have to walk.

Eventually, only the 3% will afford to drive private vehicles.

This is one of the first step back to the 15th century.

JMartin

And the rest of us get older and older.

DaveD

It's sad, but I had the same thought process on this one that Harvey did.

Matthew

It's all part of the plan. People are much easier to control when the state is in charge of their transportation.

Brotherkenny4

Wages for working people have gone down in real value, while productivity has gone up. Vehicles are a big money sink that have no or little residual value. You can be smart and hard working, and you can still be poor, if you buy what is typically considered necessary consumption, like a car, and other things that are not really needed. Of course, the smart person, as our teachers here and elsewhwere will tell us, is the one that accepts his or her training and follows the good advice of the leaders. For our leaders and their media outlet brethren are certainly wise people who have the nations best interests in mind and in no way are they trying to make themselves rich or to enslave others.

Actually, on another note. I have used public transportation in a number of cities and find that it is lower stress than driving, lower cost, and I can spend time reading, which is rather enjoyable. Now, that said, there are a number of locations where public transportation is available but local police and their customer criminals make the system relatively dangerous, and so normal people don't use it unless they are desperate. Boston, DC, San Fran, are good systems, parts of NYC and most of Chicago are bad systems because of the crime. So, what I am saying is that these public systems would all be great except for the punk criminals and the inept cops that screw up certain ones.

kelly

How many fold better/cheaper would US public transportation be if big oil/rubber/GM hadn't wrecked the existing/expanding electric trolley/mass transit system to sell their buses.

Cross region/country public travel remains a national disgrace of overcharged TSA rousts, hopelessly off-schedule Amtrak, or 'every 20 mile bus stop' diesel bus pollution or >$0.50/mile private cars.

The guilty corporations should have been 'fined' more than a dollar.

Billions of dollars from decades of ill-gotten profits would begin to reimburse the American public.

HarveyD

For every $1T hidden in 'safe heavens', one more million Americans will have to use public transports. As more and more wealth is hidden out of the country, the 97% gets poorer and cannot afford to buy and operate private vehicles.

The above trend is getting worse. The average American worker is making less money today then in 2000, in steady 2000 dollars but buying and using a private vehicle cost 50% more.

People normally get the level of public transport security they deserve. With over 400,000,000 weapons sold in USA, many will be used against innocent and not so innocent travellers.

kelly

HarveyD stated the transportation context.

Urban mass transport may be most of what's needed. 'One moving part' electric vehicles may be the least costly means for the future "route 66" mind set.

"The rich get richer", but along the way science has given the masses refrigeration, travel, health, entertainment, comfort, .. beyond what Alexander the Great or Napoleon had.

However, there needs to be an even spectrum of consumers and products.

When it becomes 'the one percent' verse 'the remainder' - French guillotines can be replaced with 'tag/fire' rifles/scopes, IEDs, homemade cell phone hacked drones, etc, ..

kelly

HarveyD stated the transportation context.

Urban mass transport may be most of what's needed. 'One moving part' electric vehicles may be the least costly means for the future "route 66" mind set.

"The rich get richer", but along the way science has given the masses refrigeration, travel, health, entertainment, comfort, .. beyond what Alexander the Great or Napoleon had.

However, there needs to be an even spectrum of consumers and products.

When it becomes 'the one percent' verse 'the remainder' - French guillotines can be replaced with 'tag/fire' rifles/scopes, IEDs, homemade cell phone hacked drones, etc, ..

HarveyD

Kelly...according to a very respected world organisation, 50% of the Planet's wealth is currently in tax free heavens and belong to less than 3% or the world's population and 80% of it belong to less than 1%.

The others will soon have to use public transportation or have to learn to walk again?

kelly

HareyD, I don't doubt those numbers.

What in nature allows one member of a species to have or waste thousands of times more than the next member - for the sake of either?

Those feeding on yachts and caviar would already naturally be extinct.

T2

I hope the future is likely to be nowhere near as bleak as you are posting here. There are less onerous forms of transport available until walking becomes the only option left.

Many will discover the utility of electrically assisted bicycles. The ability of the bicycle to carry 100lbs of cargo with panier bags will be appreciated as it takes only a small amount of extra effort.

I also expect to see road infrastructure include dedicated bike lanes supplemented by plexiglass screens for reducing exposure to inclement weather and providing separation from the faster motorised traffic.

Engineer-Poet
How many fold better/cheaper would US public transportation be if

Very little, because the criminal class has been allowed to make it too dangerous for the law-abiding public under "civil rights" legislation.  If you want the general public to ride PT, you need an effective way of banning bad actors from ever setting foot on it, or preying on people at stops.

HarveyD

Good point E-P.

We have a large 'Subway' police force to keep the bad actors at bay. The city buses and subways are now equipped with high definition cameras and drivers have access to a 'security manic' button to call for help when required.

Those two measures really helped to keep bad actors out of the public transport system.

Of course, we do not have the same percentage of riders equipped with deadly arms as you have in USA.

Engineer-Poet

The "deadly arms" most frequently used against drivers and riders in the USA are fists.  If the criminal class had to risk being shot by law-abiding citizens when carrying out their predations, PT would be far less hazardous.  Citizens with concealed-carry licenses are particularly law-abiding, and also are greatly feared by criminals.  So far as PT in the USA is concerned, the more of these "riders equipped with deadly arms", the better.

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