Americans Took 10.4 Billion Trips on Public Transportation in 2011

March 12, 2012 Updated Mar 12, 2012 at 1:01 PM EDT

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Americans Took 10.4 Billion Trips on Public Transportation in 2011

March 12, 2012 Updated Mar 12, 2012 at 1:01 PM EDT

(American Public Transportation Association news release) According to a report released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association, Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation in 2011, the second-highest annual ridership since 1957. 

According to a news release:

Only ridership in 2008, when gas rose to more than $4 a gallon, surpassed last year’s ridership.  With an increase of 2.3 percent over the 2010 ridership, this was the sixth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide.  During 2011, vehicle miles of travel (VMTs) declined by 1.2 percent.

“U.S. public transportation ridership in 2011 is now the second highest ridership since 1957,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “What is exciting is that the uptick in ridership occurred in large, medium and small communities, showing the broad support that public transportation has nationwide.  In fact, the largest rate of growth was in rural communities with populations under 100,000 where public transit use increased by 5.4 percent.”

“Two top reasons for the increased ridership are higher gas prices and in certain areas, a recovering economy with more people returning to work,” said Melaniphy. “Since nearly sixty percent of trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, it’s not surprising to see ridership increase in areas where the economy has improved.”

Noting that the increased use of passenger information technology is also contributing to higher ridership, Melaniphy said, “The exponential growth of apps to track bus and rail arrival times is demystifying the ridership experience and attracting new customers to public transportation. More and more people are now able to find out when the next bus and train will arrive through public transit apps.  This is making public transportation more attractive.”

“There should be no doubt Americans need and want public transportation,” said Melaniphy. “Congress needs to pass a well funded, multimodal, multi-year transportation bill that will help meet current and growing demand.”