Americans took 10.8 billion trips on public transportation in 2014, the highest annual public transit ridership number in 58 years, according to a report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
“Some public transit systems experienced all-time record high ridership last year. This record ridership didn’t just happen in large cities. It also happened in small and medium size communities,” said Phillip Washington, APTA chair and CEO and general manager of the Regional Transportation District in Denver.
Some of the public transit agencies reporting record ridership system-wide were located in the following cities: Albany, N.Y.; Boston; Canton, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Madison, Wis.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Olympia, Wash.; Orlando, Flor.; St. Petersburg, Flor.; Riverside, Calif.; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Francisco; Seattle; Spokane, Wash.; Tampa; and Wenatchee, Wash.
Public transit ridership increased even when gas prices declined by 42.9 cents in the fourth quarter.
“People are changing their travel behavior and want more travel options,” said Melaniphy. “In the past people had a binary choice. You either took public transit, most likely a bus, or you drove a car. Now there are multiple options with subways, light rail, streetcars, commuter trains, buses, ferries, cars and shared use vehicles.”
“Since nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, public transportation ridership increases are seen in areas where the local economy is growing,” said Melaniphy.
From 1995-2014 public transit ridership increased by 39 percent, almost double the population growth, which was up 21 percent.
The current federal surface transportation bill expires on May 31 and the record ridership sends a message to Congress that U.S. citizens are looking for expanded public transit services.