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APTA: U.S. rail ridership fell in 2018


Americans took more commuter-rail trips in 2018 than in 2017, but overall ridership on commuter-, heavy- and light-rail systems decreased by 550,585 passenger trips last year, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reported yesterday.

Nationally, commuter-rail ridership increased in 18 out of 31 transit systems, while overall ridership increased slightly by 0.41 percent in 2018 versus 2017. Two commuter-rail systems logged double-digit increases in 2018: Orlando, Florida, 30.9 percent; and Stockton, California, 11.9 percent.

However, ridership on light- and heavy-rail trains decreased compared with 2017's levels.

Light-rail ridership declined 3 percent, or 16,165 passenger trips, with just nine out of 28 transit systems logging ridership growth. Systems that logged double-digit increases in ridership included Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Tampa, Florida, 50 percent; Charlotte Area Transit System, 41.1 percent; and Seattle, Washington-King County Department of Transportation, 19 percent.

Heavy-rail ridership decreased nationally by 2.6 percent, or 99,189 passenger trips. 

Overall, Americans took 9.9 billion trips on all forms of public transit in 2018, down 2 percent compared with 2017's level, according to APTA.

Despite the year-over-year decrease, public transit ridership grew by 27 percent from 1995 through 2018, APTA officials said.

"As people have more transportation options than ever before, public transportation systems around the country are experimenting with new programs and services to attract new riders," said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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