Boosted by the popularity of light rail, public transportation provided some 9.7 billion trips in the U.S. during 2005, the American Public Transportation Association recently announced.
“The ridership growth over the past 10 years demonstrates that Americans want transportation choices and will often leave their cars behind when quality public-transit services are available,” said APTA President William Millar, who noted that public transportation use has increased more over the past 10 years—by 25.1%—than highway vehicle miles traveled increased during the same period, 22.5%.
Light rail—that is, streetcars and trolleys—led the increased ridership, up 6% in 2005. Ridership was even higher in several cities. The Minneapolis light-rail system was up by 168.9% that year; Houston’s by 38%; New Jersey’s system by nearly 18%; Salt Lake City by 13.3%; Sacramento’s by 12.8%; and Los Angeles’ by 10.5%.
Ridership on commuter rail also rose by 2.8%.
Heavy-rail systems saw their ridership increase by 2.3%, while “demand response” or “paratransit” systems that assist disabled Americans with transportation went up by 2.5%. Ridership on trolleybuses; however, dropped by 1.9% in 2005.