Public transportation trips rise in second quarter

Published: September 30, 2014

More than 2.7 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the second quarter of 2014, according to a report released Sept. 29 by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This is a 1.1 percent increase over the same quarter last year, representing an increase of 30 million more trips. Public transportation ridership outpaced urban vehicle miles traveled (VMT) which grew at 0.97 percent for this quarter.

Noting that in five of the last eight quarters, ridership on U.S. public transportation has increased, APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said, “Public transportation ridership continues to grow nationally, showing that federal investment in public transit is paying off. With greater travel options, peoples’ lives improve and communities grow.”

Pointing to public transit systems in Austin, Texas; Denver, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Seattle, Melaniphy said, “Some public transit systems saw significant ridership, even record ridership increases on lines and extensions that have opened in the past five years. This shows that if you expand public transportation options with new services, additional people will decide to use public transportation.”

MetroRail, the commuter rail line for Austin, Texas, reached record ridership for the second quarter. Its ridership has quadrupled since it was launched in 2010. With the new light rail system that opened in April 2013 in Denver light rail ridership reached record numbers with an increase of 8.1 percent in the second quarter. Seattle’s five year old light rail line saw another record quarter with a quarterly ridership increase of 17 percent, marking 20 consecutive quarters of double digit growth.

Ridership reached record numbers in several systems across the country. For example, Capital District Transportation Authority (Albany, N.Y.), Spokane Transit (Spokane, Wash.) and Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (Canton, Ohio), saw quarterly record ridership numbers, as did San Mateo County’s commuter rail line Caltrain (San Carlos, Calif.). The Long Island Rail Road saw the highest ridership for the month of June since June 2008 when gas prices were very high.

Ridership increases were due to a number of factors including high gas prices and recovering local economies. Nationally, the average cost of a gallon of gas in the second quarter was $3.75.

2014 Second Quarter Ridership Breakdown:

Nationally, heavy rail ridership increased by 3.2 percent. Cities with heavy rail systems showing the highest percentage of increases were located in the following cities: Boston (7.0 percent); Chicago (5.5 percent); New York, NY-MTA New York City Transit (3.9 percent); New York, NY-MTA Staten Island Railway (2.9 percent); Cleveland, Ohio (2.8 percent); and San Francisco (2.0 percent).

Overall, light rail ridership increased by 2.8 percent in the second quarter of 2014. Light rail in Oceanside, Calif., saw a triple digit increase of 160 percent since the system was shut down from March-May 2013. Light rail systems in the following cities saw double digit increases in the second quarter: San Diego (28.8 percent) Minneapolis (16.5 percent); Seattle (14.4 percent); and Houston (13 percent). Other light rail systems showing significant percentage of increases were located in the following cities: Denver (8.1%); Charlotte, N.C. (7.1 percent); Salt Lake City (6.8 percent); Newark, N.J. (5.2 percent); and Hampton, Va. (4.4 percent).

Ridership on commuter rail systems increased by 3.1 percent in the second quarter. The following cities saw double digit increases in the second quarter of 2014: Salt Lake City (18.6 percent); Stockton, Calif. (17.0 percent); Lewisville, Texas (15.5 percent); Dallas-Ft. Worth (13.4 percent); Portland, Ore. (12.2 percent); and San Carlos, Calif. (10.0 percent). The following cities also experienced a ridership increase on light rail in the second quarter: Seattle (7.4 percent); Anchorage (6.9 percent); Boston (6.0 percent); Oceanside, Calif. (5.7 percent); Newark, N.J. (5.6 percent); and Austin, Texas (3.3 percent).

Bus ridership decreased nationally by 1.2 percent, although in cities with populations of less than two million, bus ridership increased.

Demand response (paratransit) increased in the second quarter of 2014 by 2.2 percent. Trolleybus ridership decreased by 3.8 percent.

To see the complete APTA ridership report go to: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/Ridership/2014-q2-ridership-APTA.pdf.