3/10/2014 | 1 MINUTE READ

U.S. Reports 57-Year High in Public Transit Travel

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Americans made 10.7 billion trips on public transportation last year the most in one year since 1956, according to the American Public Transportation Assn.

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Americans made 10.7 billion trips on public transportation last year the most in one year since 1956, according to the American Public Transportation Assn. It was the eighth consecutive year in which such trips topped 10 billion.

The Washington, D.C.-based group says public transit ridership over the past 57 years has grown 37%, outpacing the country's 20% expansion in population. Miles traveled in conventional passenger vehicles grew 23% over the same period.

A recovering economy helps explain the recent increase. APTA points out that nearly 60% of public transportation riders are commuting to and from work, so ridership goes up as the job market improves.

Ridership from 2012 to 2013 grew nearly 3% for heavy rail, 2% for commuter rail and almost 2% for light rail. Bus ridership nationwide slipped 0.1% last year, but it surged nearly 4% in cities with populations below 100,000. Trips via on-demand services (paratransit) rose 0.5%, according to APTA.

The association says 17 public transit agencies reported all-time record high ridership for 2013. They include Ann Arbor (Mich.), Cleveland, Denver, Espanola (N.M.), Flagstaff, Fort Myers, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Oakland (Calif.), Pompano Beach, Riverside, Salt Lake City, San Carlos (Calif.), Tampa, Yuma and New York City.