Monday, March 9, 2009

Transit Ridership Sets 52-Year High

Is America's love affair with the automobile coming to an end? Americans took 10.7 billion rides on public transit in 2008, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). That is the most in 52 years and a four percent gain over 2007. The increase came despite a falloff in gasoline prices and rising unemployment, a critical factor for transit, since 60 percent of transit usage is work related.
"The APTA survey found that ridership increased last year on all modes of transit all across the country. Ridership rose on 14 of the nation's subway systems (3.5 percent), 20 of 21 commuter rail systems (4.7 percent) and 20 of 26 light-rail systems (8.3 percent). Some of the big increases were in places such as South Florida, Dallas and Salt Lake City, not necessarily among the largest communities served by transit, officials said."
Transit advocates say the gains provide a rationale for increased investment in public travel modes. The spending would not only help the economy but address environmental and energy issues. APTA President William W. Millar told The Washington Post:

"Now, more than ever, the value of public transportation is evident, and the public has clearly demonstrated that they want and need more public transit services. These are investments that pay off for decades and decades to come. Boston opened the nation's first subway in 1897. More than a century later I can still ride it today."

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