A recent report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shows that people in the US are taking transit in record numbers. This high level of ridership hasn’t been seen since 1956, with almost 10.7 billion trips taken in 2013 — making it the eighth consecutive year with over 10 billion trips on public transportation.
Two of the important factors involved in the rise in ridership are economic recovery and the investments made by transit agencies to expand systems and improve services. APTA President Michael Melaniphy said, “When more people are employed, public transportation ridership increases, since nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes… We’re seeing that where cities have invested in transit, their unemployment rates have dropped, and employment is going up because people can get there.”
An interesting side-note is that the increased demand for public transportation flies in the face of conventional wisdom that past a certain price point, transit use rises and falls with gasoline prices. In 2008, with gas prices between $4 and $5 a gallon, the number of transit trips taken (10.59 billion trips) was still lower than for 2013 (10.65 billion trips), when gas averaged under $4 a gallon.
Will the demand for transit continue to grow? Based on the data, Mr. Melaniphy says it will. “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… This is a long-term trend. This isn’t just a blip.”
Follow the links for more facts from APTA’s 2013 report or to view the complete report.