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More than 2.7 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation systems in the third quarter, a 1.8 percent increase over the year-ago quarter, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced today.Ridership rose in all three rail categories during the quarter, APTA found. Ridership increased 4.6 percent on heavy-rail systems, 3.5 percent on commuter-rail systems and 3.2 percent on light-rail systems.The quarter's total ridership growth represented an increase of more than 48 million trips and was the highest third-quarter ridership since 1974, APTA officials said in a press release. U.S. public transportation ridership has increased in 12 of the past 15 quarters.APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy cited a number of reasons for the ridership growth, including federal investment in public transportation through new rail lines and bus rapid-transit systems, as well as transit agencies that have improved service quality."Additionally, the economy is recovering and since nearly 60 percent of public transit trips are taken to travel for work commutes, public transportation ridership has increased in cities where the economy has improved," said Melaniphy.Eight out of 15 heavy-rail systems (subways and elevated trains) experienced ridership growth in the third quarter. Cities showing double-digit increases were Atlanta, up 10.4 percent, and San Francisco, up 10 percent.Eighteen out of 28 light-rail systems reported higher ridership for the quarter. Cities that posted double-digit increases were Houston, 22.1 percent; Hampton, Va., 16.8 percent; Seattle, 14.1 percent; and Oceanside, Calif., 11.8 percent.Also, 23 out of 28 commuter-rail systems grew ridership. Double-digit increases were reported in Stockton, Calif., 18.2 percent; Salt Lake City, 16.5 percent; Seattle, 13.8 percent; and San Carlos, Calif., 10.7 percent.