In 2013, Americans took a record 10.7 billion trips on public transit.
I don't like public transportation. It's a completely irrational dislike, I'll admit, and is largely due to the fact that I'm a control freak. It's the reason I like living in Detroit, rather than New York, Chicago, London, Paris or any other city with a sprawling transit system - I have
to drive everywhere. Senior Editor Steven Ewing, though, loves
public transportation. During the Chicago Auto Show
, he was genuinely disappointed that we could walk or be shuttled everywhere, rather than take his beloved "L" Train or shove our way onto a CTA bus, like in years past. Based on a new study, though, it seems like more and more people are siding with Mr. Ewing when it comes to buses, trains and subways.
According to a study released by the American Public Transportation Association, in 2013 Americans took a record 10.7 billion trips on public transit, a 57-year high. This isn't a new phenomenon either, as the US has cracked the 10-billion-trip mark for the eighth year in a row. There was a 2.8-percent jump in the number of people riding subways and elevated trains with over half of the systems studied recording an increase. Light rail, meanwhile, saw a 1.6-percent jump nationwide, with 17 of the 27 systems in the US seeing upticks.
More surprising is that the number of transport networks aren't limited to big cities like Los Angeles, New York or Chicago. Smaller metropolises are seeing increases in the use of public transport, with places like Austin, TX, Minneapolis, MN and Portland, OR seeing double-digit jumps in subway and other heavy rail. Salt Lake City, UT, meanwhile, recorded a massive 103.3-percent increase in its heavy rail. It's a similar story in smaller cities that use light rail, like trolleys and streetcars.
Why the increase, though? Not surprisingly, the improving economy is playing a big role. As The Detroit Free Press
points out, governments are restoring service in the wake of the Great Recession. Drops in unemployment are also leading to a surge in passengers, with the APTA study claiming that 60 percent of trips on public transit are work related.
"Access to public transportation matters," said the APTA's president and CEO, Michael Melaniphy. "Community leaders know that public transportation investment drives community growth and economic revitalization."
to have a look at the APTA's press release to see the results of the study. What's public transit like where you live? Would you like to see an increase in projects around you? And at what would it take to get you out of your car and onto a bus, train or subway? Have your say in Comments.