Public Transportation Ridership Continues to Grow

WASHINGTON, DC -- New ridership statistics complied by the American Public Transportation Association indicate that levels for 2001 continue to exceed the record-breaking pace of the previous year. APTA data shows that ridership increased 2.2 percent for the first three-quarters of 2001, with a .8 percent gain for the third quarter.

“All types of communities are made stronger and more vibrant when trips are taken on America’s public transportation systems,” said American Public Transportation Association President William W. Millar. “While still growing, third quarter ridership statistics were understandably affected by a sluggish economy and the events of September 11.”

Modes of public transportation showing the largest percentage increases in ridership for the first three-quarters of 2001 were small bus systems serving a population of 50,000 to 99,999 (10.3 percent); demand response or paratransit, (8.6 percent); heavy rail or subways, (3 percent); commuter rail (3 percent) and light rail, 2.8 percent.

Examples of ridership gains include – heavy rail, Washington, D.C.’s Metrorail system (8.5 percent); light rail, Tri-County Metropolitan District of Oregon in Portland (5.7 percent), and commuter rail, the Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority in Miami (10 percent). Among small and large bus systems; Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (7.4 percent); Lansing, Michigan (19 percent), and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (7.5 percent).

APTA attributes this increase in ridership to the continued investment by federal, state and local governments that have assisted transit systems in their efforts to expand and modernize and provide more customer-oriented amenities. Ridership for the fourth quarter (October through December) is not yet available.