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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

More people turning to transit as gas prices increase, APTA says

Rising gas prices, service expansion and improved passenger services have led to ridership spikes at many transit agencies during the past year, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

The association still is collecting ridership data for second quarter, but officials at many agencies are reporting increased fare revenue, more crowded rail cars and higher Web site views.

For example, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s heavy-rail ridership increased 8.6 percent in the second quarter compared with second-quarter 2004; Denver’s Regional Transportation District reported a 4 percent increase in May, and 3 percent increases in June and August; Trinity Railway Express’ ridership has increased 15 percent so far in September; Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority posted August ridership increases of 7.6 percent and 7.8 percent for its light-rail and subway systems, respectively; New Jersey Transit’s heavy-rail ridership increased 6.1 percent in second-quarter 2005 compared with second-quarter 2004; MTA’s Metro-North and Long Island railroads have posted ridership spikes; and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s year-to-date ridership has increased 10 percent.

Meanwhile, some transit agencies are reporting ridership spikes they attribute to increased or improved service. The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, posted a 79.9 percent increase in second-quarter 2005 compared with the same 2004 period because it launched light-rail service early last year. Since opening the Hiawatha light-rail line in June 2004, Minneapolis’ Metro Transit has recorded a 100 percent ridership gain. And at Miami-Dade Transit, ridership has increased 25.6 percent during the past three years since the agency adopted a half-percent sales tax dedicated to transit improvements.

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More News from 9/26/2005