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Turnstiles keep on turning
Year-end ridership numbers won’t be completely crunched for another couple of months, but U.S. public transit agencies are on pace to break 2005’s record ridership of 9.7 billion passenger trips. During 2006’s first nine months, agencies collectively posted 7.8 billion passenger trips, a 3 percent increase compared with the same 2005 period, according to the American Public Transportation Association.
Light-rail ridership, which includes streetcars, trolleys and modern light-rail systems, rose 5.4 percent. Agencies posting the largest gains include Utah Transit Authority, up 23.3 percent; Minneapolis’ Metro Transit, 22.6 percent; New Jersey Transit, 16.3 percent; and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, 11.9 percent.
In the commuter-rail segment, ridership increased 3.2 percent. Leading the pack were the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Harrisburg service, up 12.1 percent; Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, 12 percent; and South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, 11.7 percent.
Finally, heavy-rail, or subway, ridership rose 2.8 percent, with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority posting the largest gains at 12.9 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively.
Another year, more freight traffic records
Freight railroads had yet another record-breaking year. U.S. roads handled record volume of 1.74 trillion ton-miles, up 2.5 percent compared with 2005’s 1.69 trillion ton-miles, the previous record.
U.S. railroads also originated an all-time-high 12.3 million intermodal loads, up 5 percent compared with 2005’s 11.7 million trailers and containers. BNSF Railway originated 4.8 million intermodal loads, up 6.7 percent compared with 2005’s total; Union Pacific Railroad, 3.3 million loads, up 6.1 percent; Norfolk Southern Railway, 2.4 million loads, up 3.1 percent; CSX Transportation, 1.5 million loads, up 1.6 percent; and Florida East Coast Railway, 228,262 loads, up 6.7 percent. Kansas City Southern’s originated intermodal loads dropped 17.4 percent to 64,975 loads, but the railroad received 255,108 loads, up 9.2 percent compared with 2005’s total.
Canadian railroads posted record intermodal traffic, too. Canadian National Railway originated 1.2 million trailers and containers, up 7.3 percent, and Canadian Pacific Railway Co. originated 1.1 million intermodal loads, up 2.7 percent.