Ridership on buses, subways and other modes of public transportation in the USA rose 1.5% to 10.5 billion trips last year, the highest annual total since 2008, according to a new report. Although Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath slowed ridership on some of the nation’s largest transit systems, at least 16 systems reported record ridership numbers in 2012, says the American Public Transportation Association.
“When Sandy hit, and the snowstorm that followed it, an estimated 74 million (transit) trips were lost, and yet we still had the second-highest ridership since 1957,” said APTA president and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “The increase in transit ridership was driven, at least partly, by high gas prices, the volatility of those prices and the nation’s changing demographics.”
“In the last 18 months or so, we’ve seen prices be very volatile,” Melaniphy says. “When you think about the impact of that on your budget, when you can’t count on your transportation costs being consistent day over day, week over week, that’s really hard on the budget. We’re seeing record transit ridership on systems all over the country, in the Midwest, the East, the South, the North and the West,” he says.
A 2012 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures said that “affordability likely plays a role” in the growth of transit, noting “estimates are that an individual can save more than $10,000 a year by riding public transit instead of driving.” That report also noted the growing popularity of public transportation, especially among Baby Boomers, empty-nesters and Millennials, who total about 150 million people.
Melaniphy notes that in 2012, there were 62 local tax elections on transportation funding proposals that had at least a significant transit component; 49 of them passed.
Article courtesy of USATODAY.