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Public transportation ridership up for sixth straight quarter


Ridership on U.S. public transportation rose 1.6 percent to 2.7 billion trips in second-quarter 2012 compared with second-quarter 2011, marking the sixth consecutive quarterly increase, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced today.

Although ridership on all major modes showed increases, light and heavy rail posted the largest gains in the quarter with increases of 4.3 percent and 2.5 percent respectively, APTA officials said in a prepared statement.

Light-rail ridership rose 4.3 percent, with 21 out of 27 light-rail systems reporting growth from April through June. Light-rail systems saw double-digit increases in Memphis, Tenn., 36.7 percent; Salt Lake City, 28.8 percent; Pittsburgh, 21.2 percent; Los Angeles, 13.8 percent; Sacramento, Calif., 13.4 percent; and Seattle, 10.3 percent.

Commuter-rail ridership rose 1.7 percent, with 18 of the 28 commuter-rail systems reporting increases. Lewisville, Texas, had a triple-digit increase in commuter-rail ridership due to the opening of a new service, and the following cities saw double-digit increases: Austin, Texas, 14.8 percent; Seattle, 14.6 percent; San Carlos, Calif., 13.3 percent; and Stockton, Calif., 12.2 percent.

"In some areas of the country, local and regional economies are rebounding, and not surprisingly, public transit ridership is up in regions where jobs are increasing and employment is up," said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy.

Cities experiencing ridership increases as their local economy improved included San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Ky., Salt Lake City, Denver, Boston, Chicago and Phoenix.

Ridership rose even though gasoline prices fell during the quarter, Melaniphy noted.

"This goes to show that there is a growing demand for public transportation services, and the next Congress and president must address this issue," he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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