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Public transportation ridership rose in first half, APTA says


Nearly 5.2 billion trips were taken on public transportation modes during the first six months of 2011, up 1.7 percent — or 85.7 million trips — compared with the same 2010 period, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Heavy rail and light rail gained the most riders, increasing 3.8 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, APTA officials said in a prepared statement.

Heavy-rail systems in the following cities posted the biggest gains: San Juan, Puerto Rico (21.2 percent); Cleveland (17.2 percent); Baltimore (10 percent); Boston (8.8 percent); Miami (6.4 percent); San Francisco (5.4 percent); and Lindenwold, N.J. (5.3 percent).

Among light-rail systems, 18 out of 27 reported an increase in ridership during the first six months. In addition, seven cities registered double-digit ridership growth: Seattle (42 percent); Dallas (32.3 percent); Philadelphia (17.4 percent); New Orleans (15.2 percent); Buffalo, N.Y. (14 percent); Oceanside, Calif. (11.6 percent); and Baltimore (10.4 percent).

Meanwhile, 23 out of 27 commuter-rail systems reported gains; overall, commuter-rail ridership grew 1 percent. Ridership in Austin, Texas, shot up 221.4 percent, while passenger counts jumped 38.5 percent in Nashville, Tenn.; 23.7 percent in Portland, Ore.; 17.1 percent in Oceanside; 16.2 percent in Alexandria, Va.; 11.9 percent in Salt Lake City, Utah; and 10 percent in Portland, Maine.

“There is strong support for public transportation nationwide and the uptick in our 2011 ridership figures is a reflection of this,” said APTA President William Millar.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/4/2011