APTA reports record ridership on U.S. public transportation in 2013

The demand for public transportation rose last year as Americans took 10.7 billion trips, the highest transit ridership in 57 years, according to a report released today 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.

Metro Rail saw an overall ridership increase of 5.4% in 2013, mostly due to the popularity of the Expo Line.

Here’s the press release from APTA:

In 2013 Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation, which is the highest annual public transit ridership number in 57 years, according to a report released today 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 percent, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1 percent.

“Last year people took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation. As the highest annual ridership number since 1956, Americans in growing numbers want to have more public transit services in their communities,” said Peter Varga, APTA Chair and CEO of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI. “Public transportation systems nationwide – in small, medium, and large communities – saw ridership increases. Some reported all-time high ridership numbers.”

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.

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

“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,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.

“Access to public transportation matters,” continued Melaniphy. “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 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes.”

“The federal investment in public transit is paying off and that is why Congress needs to act this year to pass a new transportation bill,” said Melaniphy.

To see the complete APTA 2013 ridership report, go to: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/2013-q4-ridership-APTA.pdf

2013 Ridership Breakdown

Heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) ridership increased by 2.8 percent across the country as 8 out of 15 transit systems reported increases. Heavy rail in Miami, FL, saw an increase of 10.6 percent 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 percent 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 percent. 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 percent 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 percent in cities with a population of below 100,000. Nationally, bus ridership in communities of all sizes remained stable, declining by 0.1 percent.
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 percent.

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5 replies

  1. How many are actually paying?

    Ridership numbers are just one part of the figure now. What we need are statistics showing how much the increase in ridership are having an affect on transit agencies’ revenues and farebox recovery ratios.

  2. as for fare box recovery – a high quality heavy rail line like the red line – which is only at a fraction of capacity , as more people ride The operating cost per passenger decreases. the initial cost of running the escalators, lighting the tunnels and stations, ventilation, etc. is constant, no matter how many people ride it.. and plus longer trains means more people carried per operator, but the I’m not sure if it is any more energy efficient.

  3. Regarding farebox recovery ratio is the undeniable fact that:

    1. None of the American transit agencies are able to achieve full farebox recovery ratios, even the most heavily used NYCMTA, under the taxpayer subsidized flat rate system.

    2. Whereas all of the Asian transit corporations make up over 100% farebox recovery ratios per their distance based fare system.

    Definitely something to think about.