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Rail News: Passenger Rail

APTA report: Quarterly ridership increases for first time since late 2008


In the second quarter, more than 2.5 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation systems, up 0.1 percent compared with second-quarter 2009 ridership, according to a report released yesterday by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The ridership gain is the first in six quarters, according to the report.

Public transit use had declined in the the past five quarters due to high unemployment, the recession, and lower state and local revenue for public transportation, according to APTA.

“History shows that as the economy grows, public transit ridership tends to increase. This rise in ridership offers a glimmer of hope that we may be coming out of the economic recession and ridership will continue to move upward,” said APTA President William Millar in a prepared statement.

In 2Q, 16 out of 28 light-rail systems reported a ridership gain and light-rail ridership increased nationally by 4.2 percent. Light-rail systems in five cities registered double-digit increases: New Orleans, 27.8 percent; Phoenix, 12.7 percent; Seattle (King County Metro Transit), 12.5 percent; and Portland, Ore., 11.3 percent. Seattle’s Sound Transit posted a more than 100 percent ridership increase due to a new line that opened in July 2009.

Eleven out of 15 heavy-rail systems logged ridership gains, and nationally, heavy-rail ridership rose 2.2 percent.

Meanwhile, 13 out of 27 commuter-rail systems reported quarterly increases. However, nationally, commuter-rail ridership declined 0.4 percent in 2Q.