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

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Snohomish County’s emergency radios are breaking down

A plan to convert to digital equipment is in the works with an estimated cost of up to $75 million.

Most Read