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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

APTA: Public transit ridership totals 10.3 billion in 2007


Public transit ridership continues to increase as gas prices rise, highway congestion worsens and agencies expand service. Last year, Americans took more than 10.3 billion trips on public transit systems, the highest level in 50 years and a 2.1 percent increase compared with 2006, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Light rail, which APTA characterizes as modern streetcars and trolleys, had the highest increase of all modes at 6.1 percent. Agencies posted large increases in New Orleans (128.6 percent), Denver (66.2 percent), St. Louis (27 percent), Philadelphia (26.2 percent), Kenosha, Wis. (18.5 percent), New Jersey (14.7 percent), and Memphis (11.3 percent).

Commuter-rail ridership grew 5.5 percent, with triple-digit growth in Nashville (257.9 percent), and double-digit increases in Santa Fe, N.M. (96.6 percent), Harrisburg, Pa. (41.3 percent), Seattle (27.4 percent), Oakland (14.2 percent), Dallas/Fort Worth (12.1 percent), Stockton, Calif. (11.9 percent), Portland, Maine (11.8 percent), and Pompano Beach, Fla. (10.3 percent).

Finally, heavy-rail ridership rose 3.1 percent, with agencies in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Atlanta posting double-digit growth of 13.2 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.