Demand for Public Transit Grows in 2013
Public transit systems across the nation saw a surge in ridership during the first three quarters of 2013, continuing several years of increasing popularity. Use of public transportation rose by an impressive 1.5 percent nationwide over the same period in 2012. Americans took more than 2.7 billion trips on public transit in Q3 alone: 39 million more rides than in the previous year.
"Public transportation ridership continued to grow across the country in large, medium, and small communities," said Michael Melaniphy
, the President and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association. "This continued demand for public transportation demonstrates the value of public transit to individuals and the communities they live in, no matter their size."
Several regions across the country saw a double-digit boost in ridership during the first 3 quarters of 2013. The Utah Transit Authority
(primarily covering Salt Lake, Weber, Davis, Box Elder, Tooele, and Utah Counties, as well as the major ski resort areas in Utah) increased light rail ridership by 13.4 percent. The Regional Transportation District
(primarily covering Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, Parker, Highlands Ranch, Wheat Ridge and several local municipalities in Colorado) observed a 25.3 percent increase in light rail ridership after debuting a new line last spring. Light rail ridership on the Regional Transit Authority
(serving the Garden District, Gretna, Algiers, Lower 9th Ward, Metairie, and New Orleans East as well as the downtown area of New Orleans, Louisiana) grew by 71.2 percent thanks to a line that opened in January.
In Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (primarily covering Euclid, Shaker Heights, Brecksville, Parma, Parma Heights, Lakewood, Bay Village, Strongsville, as well as downtown Cleveland, Ohio) saw its ridership for heavy rail
jump 5.7 percent, while Miami-Dade Transit
(Cutler Bay, The Hammocks, Palmetto Bay, Norland, Hialeah Gardens, Carol City, the Miami International Airport, and downtown Miami, Florida) increased heavy rail ridership 11.1 percent by increasing service frequency.
Finally, Metro Transit (serving Big Lake, Maple Grove, Spring Park, Forest Lake, Stillwater, Chaska, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airports and the greater metropolitan areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota) increased ridership on its Northstar Line by 15.1 percent. Northstar attributed
the growth to an improved rider experience. The line recently instituted a $1 fare decrease, added free Wi-Fi service, and started employing extra trains for large-scale events in the city.
Overall, 22 of the country’s 28 commuter rail lines increased ridership in the first three quarters of 2013. All major forms of public transportation increased during the observation period, but light rail had the largest boost of 3.1 percent.
"People are starting to realize there is additional value-added to riding [public transportation]" said Mary Shaffer
, spokeswoman for the Greater Cleveland Transit Authority. "You can do things you can’t do while driving, like reading, sleeping, texting, and relaxing."
To compete in a 21st century economy, communities increasingly need affordable and accessible public transit options. The growing coverage and use in areas both urban and rural across the country indicates that Americans value investment in public transportation—and that investment will be key to meeting increased demand as communities continue to grow. Become a voice for public transit
and help make sure every citizen in America who wants it has access to public transportation.