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APTA: Public transportation ridership rose in second quarter

Nearly 2.7 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation systems in the second quarter, up 1.2 percent compared with second-quarter 2012, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced yesterday.

Ridership on U.S. public transportation systems now has increased in eight out of the past 10 quarters, APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy said in a prepared statement.

"In big and small communities, the demand for public transportation continues to grow," he said, adding that he anticipates the trend to continue.

Melaniphy attributed the ridership growth to an improved economy in several cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Denver, Houston, Hampton Roads, Va., and Seattle.

"Since nearly 60 percent of trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, it makes sense that ridership goes up when employment goes up," Melaniphy said.

Nationally, heavy-rail ridership rose 2.5 percent in the second quarter, with eight out of 15 systems reporting growth. Those systems posting the highest gains were in Miami, 16.8 percent; San Francisco, 6.7 percent; New York City, 3.8 percent; and Philadelphia, 3.7 percent.

On commuter-rail systems, 2Q ridership ratcheted up 0.9 percent. Nineteen out of 28 reported gains during the quarter, with ridership registering a triple-digit increase in Salt Lake City (110 percent) due to a new commuter-rail line that opened in December 2012, APTA officials said.

Five commuter-rail systems also recorded double-digit increases: Austin, Texas, 37.1 percent; Lewisville, Texas, 30.4 percent; Stockton, Calif., 22 percent; Anchorage, Alaska, 18.3 percent; and Minneapolis, 15.6 percent.

On a national scale, total light-rail ridership slipped a bit by 0.5 percent during the second quarter, but 14 out of 28 systems reported gains. Systems that registered significant increases include Hampton, Va., 21.4 percent; Denver, 12.2 percent; Seattle-Sound Transit, 8.5 percent; Los Angeles, 7.5 percent; San Jose, Calif., 6.3 percent; Philadelphia, 6.3 percent; Baltimore, 4.6 percent; Phoenix, 3.3 percent; Dallas, 3.1 percent; and Pittsburgh, 2.9 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/24/2013