U.S. Transit Trips Hit 10.2B in 2009, With Light Rail Up in Nine Cities

transit08_300.jpg(Photo: Model D Media)

The nation’s transit systems hosted 10.2 billion trips last year, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reported yesterday. While that figure represents a 3.8 percent decline from 2008, APTA’s data showed light rail ridership rising in nine cities and the long-term increase in transit use continuing to outpace growth in population and vehicle miles traveled.

APTA President William Millar portrayed the new ridership figures as a win for transit, given the economic recession and the fact that fuel prices declined last year relative to their 2008 highs.

"Considering that nearly 60 percent of riders take public transportation
to commute to and from work, it is not surprising that ridership
declined in light of the many Americans who lost their jobs last year," Millar said in a statement.

Since 1995, APTA has reported a 31-percent increase in transit ridership nationwide, compared with a 15-percent increase in population over the same period and a 21-percent increase in highway miles traveled.

Nine cities reported light-rail ridership increases to APTA: Baltimore; Oceanside, CA; Memphis; Seattle; Philadelphia; Tampa; San Francisco; Portland; and New Orleans. Heavy rail networks in Los Angeles, D.C., Chicago, and Philadelphia also saw more riders last year.

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