News

U.S. posts record mass-transit use

U.S. posts record mass-transit use

GET ON THE BUS, GUS: 2013 marked the highest level of ridership since 1956,. Photo: clipart.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans took a record 10.7 billion trips on public transportation last year as an increase in urban living, costlier fuel, more investment and an economic upturn helped drive ridership, an industry group said on Monday.

2013 was the eighth straight year in which more than 10 billion trips were taken on U.S. public buses, subways, commuter rail and streetcars, the American Public Transportation Association(APTA) said in a report.

2013 marked the highest level of ridership since 1956, it said.

“It’s all about, if you build it, they will come. The investment pays off,” APTA President and Chief Executive Michael Melaniphy said in a telephone interview.

Melaniphy said the increase in part reflected increased investment in public transit by the federal government, along with that by states and cities which want to attract new businesses and workers.

The U.S. trend toward urban living and walkable cities also is behind the upturn in ridership. A surge in ridership that came in 2008 when gasoline and diesel prices spiked has continued even though the cost of fuel has fallen, Melaniphy said.

“People are coming and staying,” he said. The upturn in the U.S. economy also means more people commuting to work.

Since 1995, public transit ridership has risen 37.2 percent.

The increase has outpaced a 20.3 percent rise in population and a 22.7 percent upturn in vehicle miles traveled, the report said.

Among transport sectors, ridership for heavy rail, or subways and elevated trains, was up 2.8 percent last year. Commuter rail rose 2.1 percent.

Light rail, or streetcars and trolleys, experienced a 1.6 percent increase in ridership. Buses overall saw a 0.1 percent fall, though ridership in cities with less than 100,000 population rose almost 4 percent.

Cities with the largest increases in ridership included:

- Salt Lake City, which saw a 103.3 percent in commuter rail traffic after the opening of a new line in December 2012;

- Austin, Texas, with a 37.3 percent rise in commuter rail use;

- Miami, with an increase of almost 11 percent in heavy rail use, largely because of increased frequency during peak hours;

- and New Orleans, with a 29 percent rise in light rail use.

Release of the report coincided with the APTA Legislative Conference in Washington, which is aimed at helping shape federal and industry policy.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Chris Francescani and Jonathan Oatis)

Latest Headlines

in Local

Girl Dies after Being Found Unresponsive in Pool

Newsradio WGAN

Officials say a 5-year-old girl who was taken to a Portland hospital after being found unresponsive at the bottom of a swimming pool has died.

in Local

New Hampshire Missing Teen Reunites with Family

police

New Hampshire's Attorney General says Abigail Hernandez has safely reunited with her family.

in Election 2014, Local

Michaud Gets a Boost from 2 New England Governors

mike_michaud

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin say Mainers should elect someone who's willing to work with other New England governors on regional issues.

in Local

Probe Continues After Lobster Boat Sinks in Maine

Newsradio WGAN

The Coast Guard is investigating an incident in which two Maine lobstermen had to be rescued last week after their fishing boat hit a ledge and sank in foggy weather near Vinalhaven.

in Local

Maine Man Pleads Guilty to Killing Woman

GENERIC COURT LARGE

A Maine man charged with killing a woman and seriously injuring her son has withdrawn his insanity defense and pleaded guilty under a deal with prosecutors.