Public transit systems see big ridership gains

LOS ANGELES — Americans are boarding public buses, trains and subways in greater numbers than any time since the suburbs began booming.

Nearly 10.7 billion trips in 2013, to be precise — the highest total since 1956, according to ridership data reported by transit systems nationally and released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association.

Transit ridership has now fully recovered from a dip caused by the Great Recession. With services restored following economy-driven cutbacks, ridership numbers appear set to continue what had been a steady increase.

“People are making a fundamental shift to having options” aside from a car in how they get around, said Michael Melaniphy, president and CEO of the public transportation association. “This is a long-term trend. This isn’t just a blip.”

Expanding bus and train networks help spur the growth.

Ridership on Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority light-rail trains increased six percent over 2012, as the public took advantage of an expanded network of lines. Overall, LA Metro gained nine million trips to reach 478 million in 2013, the transportation association said. Among the other transit systems in California with record ridership was the Caltrain commuter rail service that connects San Francisco with Silicon Valley.

Houston and Phoenix, two cities which have been more notable for their sprawl than public transportation offerings, had large ridership gains. So did Seattle, Miami, Denver and San Diego. The New York area’s behemoth transit network saw the greatest gain, accounting for one in three trips nationally.

Transit advocates argue that the public increasingly values the ability to get around without a car. They offer as evidence the nation’s urban shift and the movement to concentrate new development around transit hubs.

“People want to work and live along transit lines,” Melaniphy said. “Businesses, universities and housing are all moving along those corridors.”

By the numbers:

Americans are boarding public buses, trains and subways in greater numbers than any time since the suburbs began booming, according to new ridership numbers.

Public transit passengers took nearly 10.7 billion trips in 2013 — the highest total since 1956.

What follows is a look at which transit agencies saw the biggest gains.

Urban area; Agency; Increase in unlinked passenger trips 2012 to 2013; percent increase

New York City; New York City Transit Authority; 120,635,700; 3.6 percent

Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; 9,194,200; 2 percent

Phoenix; Valley Metro; 4,240,000; 40 percent

New York City; New Jersey Transit; 4,049,700; 1.5 percent

Seattle; King County Department of Transportation; 3,204,400; 2.7 percent

Miami; Miami-Dade Transit Agency; 2,493,800; 2.3 percent

Seattle; Sound Transit; 2,341,600; 8.4 percent

Denver; Regional Transportation District; 2,257,500; 2.6 percent

Houston; Metro Transit Authority; 2,257,000; 2.7 percent

San Diego; Metropolitan Transit System; 2,230,000; 2.6 percent

Source: American Public Transportation Association

More in Local News

Bicycle tour raises money for dialysis patients

Volunteers also shared health information and put together care packages for homeless women.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Expect river levels to keep rising, though sun is on the way

Some could crest above minor and moderate flood levels.

Arrests made in robbery-turned fatal Everett shooting

A man, 24, and woman, 18, were found at a hotel in Seattle.

Boeing reaches out to schools

Company employees helped Everett students at recent reading and Manufacturing Day events.

5-vehicle collision sends school bus into ditch; no injuries

No students were hurt when a school bus crashed into… Continue reading

Fire crew returns early from wildfires in Northern California

Four Everett firefighters returned from battling California wildfires late Thursday… Continue reading

Theft lands former insurance salesman 50 days in jail

A former insurance salesman is expected to report to jail… Continue reading

Pair of intrepid musicians climb N. Cascades summits to play

Rose Freeman and Anastasia Allison pack their instruments up mountains for high-altitude recitals.

Most Read