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Public Transit is Working

GMTA bus in Montpelier, Vermont – photograph by Michlaovic

GMTA bus in Montpelier, Vermont – photograph by Michlaovic

GET Staff

Annual data coming from the American Public Transportation Association show a healthy increase in the usage of public transit by people in this country. There were 10.65 billion trips taken on it last year. The association says this is the highest number since 1956, the year the country embarked on construction of the Interstate Highway System.

The increase in ridership is only partly driven by a growth in population. Whereas the population has grown by 20.3% since 1995, public transit ridership has increased by 37.2%. Also, the most recent increase has not been fueled by rises in the cost of gasoline as much as it has been in the past. Gasoline prices are not higher today than they were in 2008, but public transit ridership has increased significantly since then.

The changes between 2012 and 2013 were primarily in rail transportation. Heavy rail transportation was up 2.8%, commuter rail increased 2.1%, and light rail was up 1.6%. Bus transportation declined overall by a very small amount, 0.1%, but increased in cities and towns with populations below 100,000 by 3.8%.

Meanwhile, private transportation declined in 99 out of the 100 largest urban areas in the United States. Not all of that was take up by public transit, because the numbers of people either walking or using bicycles instead of cars has increased. The number of people using bikeshare doubled last year.

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