The numbers echoed gains made in Los Angeles County, where light rail (13.7 percent), heavy rail (.57 percent), commuter rail (5.56 percent) and bus ridership (.12 percent) have all seen increases in the ridership over the first three quarters of 2012 compared to the same time span in 2011. The big gains in light rail here are partly attributable to the first phase of the Expo Line, which debuted in late April and fully opened to Culver City in June.
Here’s the news release from APTA:
More Than 7.9 Billion Trips Taken On Public Transportation As Ridership Increased by 2.6% in First Three Quarters of 2012
Seven Consecutive Quarters of Ridership Increases Show Growing Demand
More than 7.9 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the first three quarters of 2012 as ridership increased by 2.6 percent over the first three quarters of 2011, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This report shows that 201 million more trips were taken in the first nine months of 2012 than in the same time period in 2011.
“With seven consecutive quarters of ridership increases, it’s obvious that public demand for public transit is growing,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “As Congress works to resolve our country’s deficit problem, it also needs to work to resolve the transportation deficit. Otherwise public transit and highway funding will be facing an annual $15 billion shortfall in the next 10 years.”
Mobility is an important reason to have a strong public transportation system. However, public transportation also has a critical connection to the economy. For every $1 billion invested in public transportation 36,000 jobs are created and supported. Additionally, public transportation plays an important role in providing access to jobs.
“We continue to see that in areas where the local economy is improving and new jobs are being added, public transportation ridership is up,” said Melaniphy. “This makes sense since nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes. Public transit service is an important resource for employees and employers as it is instrumental in helping people travel to their jobs.”
Some of the cities experiencing economic improvements and public transit ridership increases in the third quarter of 2012 include: Grand Rapids (MI); Seattle (WA); St. Petersburg (FL); Phoenix (AZ); San Francisco (CA); Los Angeles (CA); and Riverside (CA).
All major modes of public transportation increased from January through September this year. Light rail and heavy rail saw the largest increases in the first nine months with increases of 4.2 percent and 3.6 percent respectively.
January – September 2012 Ridership Breakdown
Nationally, heavy rail ridership increased by 3.6 percent and 12 out of 15 heavy rail systems (subways and elevated trains) experienced ridership increases in the first nine months of 2012. The heavy rail systems with the highest increases in ridership for the first nine months of 2012 were in the following cities: Cleveland, OH (10.8%); San Francisco, CA (7.4%); Chicago, IL (4.9%); Baltimore, MD (4.4%); and New York, NY (4.4%).
Light rail ridership increased by 4.2 percent from January through September, as 22 out of 28 light rail systems reported increases in ridership. Hampton, VA experienced a triple digit increase due to new service. Light rail systems saw double digit increases in the first three quarters in five cities: Memphis, TN (33.7%); Salt Lake City, UT (19.7%); Los Angeles, CA (13.7%); Pittsburgh, PA (13.5%); and Seattle, WA (11.2%). Other light rail systems with increases were in the following cities: Sacramento, CA (6.8%); Boston, MA (6.2%); Houston, TX (6.1%); and Seattle, WA (5.5%).
Nineteen out of 28 commuter rail systems reported ridership increases and commuter rail ridership grew by 2.4 percent in the first three quarters of 2012. Commuter rail ridership saw double digit increases in the following cities: Austin, TX (15.6%); San Carlos, CA (12.3%); and Seattle, WA (10.2%). Other commuter rail systems showing high increases were located in the following cities: Stockton, CA (9.7%); Portland, OR (8.0%); Baltimore, MD (6.9%); Harrisburg-Philadelphia, PA (6.1%); Portland, ME (5.9%); Los Angeles, CA (5.6%); and Newark, NJ (5.2%).
Nationally, bus ridership rose by 1.8 percent from January through September of 2012, with 28 out of 37 large bus systems reporting increases. Some of the highest bus ridership increases in large cities were reported in: Saint Louis, MO (8.6%); Arlington Heights, IL (5.3%); Newark, NJ (5.2%); and Oakland, CA (5.0%).
Demand response (paratransit) increased by 3.6 percent.
To see the complete APTA ridership report go to: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/Ridership/2012-q3-ridership-APTA.pdf