Transit ridership in U.S. rises for first time since 2008

Page 1 of APTA's quarterly ridership report. Click above for larger image.

The American Public Transportation Assn. issued the press release below. Ridership on light rail and the subway in Los Angeles County is among those that increased in the second quarter of 2010:

Public Transit Ridership Shows First Increase Since Late 2008

In the second quarter of 2010, more than 2.5 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation as ridership increased slightly by 0.1 percent over the second quarter of 2009, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This uptick in ridership is the first increase in six quarters.

Pointing out that nearly 60 percent of trips are taken on public transportation for commuting to and from work, APTA President William Millar said, “History shows that as the economy grows, public transit ridership tends to increase. This rise in ridership offers a glimmer of hope that we may be coming out of the economic recession and ridership will continue to move upward.”

Noting that the public transit funding bill at the federal level has not passed, and local and state funding has declined, Millar said, “To maintain our public transportation systems and expand them to meet growing demand as the economy recovers, we need to have government at all levels – federal, state, and local – adequately invest in public transportation. Regrettably, facing revenue shortfalls, many transit systems must still raise fares, reduce service, and/or lay off staff in order to balance their budgets.”

Previous to this quarter’s ridership increase, public transit use had declined in the past five quarters due to high unemployment, the economic recession, and lower state and local revenue for public transportation.
“September 30 is the one-year anniversary of the expiration of the last federal surface transportation legislation that funded public transportation,” said Millar.  “Congress needs to act as soon as possible to pass a new multi-year surface transportation authorization bill so that we can move forward in improving our public transportation systems for the millions of people who depend on their services every day.”

Tomorrow, on behalf of the nation’s transit riders, APTA is holding a press event in Washington, DC, at which petitions for increased federal investment for public transportation in a long-term surface transportation bill will be delivered to Congress. The petitions have been signed by people from all 50 states.  (The petition will be available to be signed after September 22 and people who wish to sign it can do so by going to

2010 Second  Quarter Ridership Breakdown
Sixteen out of 28 light rail systems reported an increase in ridership for the second quarter of 2010 as light rail ridership increased nationally by 4.2 percent in the second quarter of 2010.  Light rail systems in five cities saw double-digit increases in the second quarter:  New Orleans, LA (27.8%); Phoenix, AZ (12.7%); Seattle, WA – King County Metro Transit (12.5%); and Portland, OR (11.3%).  The remaining light rail systems showing increases were located in the following areas:  Philadelphia, PA (9.9%); Minneapolis, MN (8.3%); Charlotte, NC (6.8%); San Diego, CA (6.5%); Tampa, FL (6.3%); Los Angeles, CA (5.7%); Boston, MA (4.8%); Oceanside, CA (2.5%); Salt Lake City, UT (2.0%), and State of New Jersey (1.4%).  Seattle’s Sound Transit system had a more than 100% increase in ridership due to a new line that began in July 2009.

Eleven out of 15 heavy rail systems (subways and elevated trains) experienced ridership increases from April through June of 2010 over the same period in 2009.  Nationally, heavy rail ridership increased by 2.2 percent.  The heavy rail systems with the highest percentage increases in ridership in the second quarter of 2010 were in the following cities: New York, NY – MTA Staten Island Railway (9.1%); Baltimore, MD (7.2%); Philadelphia, PA (6.3%); and Chicago, IL (5.4%).  Ridership increases were also experienced in the following cities:  Jersey City, NJ (2.9%); New York, NY – MTA New York City Transit (2.4%); San Juan, PR (1.5%); Los Angeles, CA (1.4%); Washington, DC (1.2%); and Boston, MA (1.0%).

Thirteen out of 27 commuter rail systems reported ridership increases. Cities with commuter rail increases were:  Nashville, TN (19.0%); Portland, OR (10.4%); Harrisburg, PA (9.5%); Salt Lake City, UT (9.3%); Alexandria, VA (9%); Portland, ME (8.7%); Baltimore, MD (4.2%); Philadelphia, PA (3.8%); Oakland, CA (2.5%); New York, NY – MTA Metro North Railroad (1.8%); State of New Jersey (1.7%); Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (1.1%); and New Haven, CT (0.6%).  Nationally, commuter rail ridership declined by 0.4 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

Bus ridership decreased nationally by 1.7 percent.  The top increases among large bus systems for the second quarter of 2010 were reported in Saint Louis, MO (15.0%) and Philadelphia, PA (3.8%).  Small bus systems with populations below 100,000 also saw an increase (3.1%).

Demand response (paratransit) increased in the second quarter of 2010 by 1.6 percent.

To see the complete APTA ridership report go to:

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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of more than 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services, and high-speed rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA member systems.

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