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."

Scroll down 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.
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Record 10.7 Billion Trips Taken On U.S. Public Transportation In 2013
The Highest Transit Ridership in 57 Years

In 2013 Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation, which is the highest annual public transit ridership number in 57 years, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This was the eighth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide. While vehicle miles traveled on roads (VMT) went up 0.3 percent, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1 percent.

"Last year people took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation. As the highest annual ridership number since 1956, Americans in growing numbers want to have more public transit services in their communities," said Peter Varga, APTA Chair and CEO of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI. "Public transportation systems nationwide – in small, medium, and large communities – saw ridership increases. Some reported all-time high ridership numbers."

Some of the public transit agencies reporting record ridership system-wide or on specific lines were located in the following cities: Ann Arbor, MI; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Espanola, NM; Flagstaff, AZ; Fort Myers, FL; Indianapolis, IN; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oakland, CA; Pompano Beach, FL; Riverside, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Carlos, CA; Tampa, FL; Yuma, AZ; and New York, NY.

Since 1995 public transit ridership is up 37.2 percent, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3 percent, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which is up 22.7 percent.

"There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities. People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth," said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.

"Access to public transportation matters," continued Melaniphy. "Community leaders know that public transportation investment drives community growth and economic revitalization."

Another reason behind the ridership increases is the economic recovery in certain areas.
When more people are employed, public transportation ridership increases since nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes."

"The federal investment in public transit is paying off and that is why Congress needs to act this year to pass a new transportation bill," said Melaniphy.

To see the complete APTA 2013 ridership report, go to: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/2013-q4-ridership-APTA.pdf

2013 Ridership Breakdown

Heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) ridership increased by 2.8 percent across the country as 8 out of 15 transit systems reported increases. Heavy rail in Miami, FL, saw an increase of 10.6 percent that was mostly due to increased frequency during peak service. Other heavy rail systems with increases in ridership for 2013 were in the following cities: Los Angeles, CA (4.8%); New York, NY (4.2%); and Cleveland, OH (2.9%).

Nationally, commuter rail ridership increased by 2.1 percent in 2013 as 20 out of 28 transit systems reported increases. With a new rail line that opened in December 2012, commuter rail in Salt Lake City, UT, saw an increase of 103.3 percent. The following five commuter rail systems saw double digit increases in 2013: Austin, TX (37.3%); Harrisburg-Philadelphia, PA (33.9%); Anchorage, AK (30.0%); Lewisville, TX (23.0%); Stockton, CA (19.9%); Minneapolis, MN (12.5%); and Portland, OR (10.3%).

Light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) ridership increased 1.6 percent in 2013 with 17 out of 27 transit systems reporting increases. Systems that showed double digit increases in 2013 were located in the following cities: New Orleans, LA (28.9%); Denver, CO (14.9%); and San Diego, CA (10.4%). Ridership in the following cities also saw increases in 2013: Seattle, WA – Sound Transit (9.8%); Pittsburgh, PA (7.5%); Salt Lake City, UT (6.8%); Los Angeles, CA (6.0%); San Jose, CA (3.6%); and Philadelphia, PA (3.5%).

Bus ridership increased by 3.8 percent in cities with a population of below 100,000. Nationally, bus ridership in communities of all sizes remained stable, declining by 0.1 percent.
Large bus systems with increases were located in the following areas: Washington, DC (3.5%); Houston, TX (3.4%); Cincinnati, OH (3.4%); and Seattle, WA (3.1%).

Demand response (paratransit) ridership increased in 2013 by 0.5 percent.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 96 Comments
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      I am fine with public transportation, but for ****'s sake, could they stop using cloth upholstery on buses and trains? It absorbs all kinds of smells and stains and becomes pretty gross. Do what they do in a lot of Asian countries- make the seating surface out of hard plastic or aluminum.
        always_busy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        While hard seating surfaces are uncomfortable, they are easier to clean and maintain and I for one don't like to think of what had been adsorbed into cloth cushions..
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Public transport is like every other business or service, its success or failure depends on the consumer experience. In cities where the operator cares, and is committed to providing a great service, supported by the community, the mass transit transport is a fast, reliable, safe, enjoyable experience. In cities where ''public transport" is regarded as an unpopular, uneconomic, problem that only services the poor, the consumer experience becomes very unpleasant indeed. It's up to the citizens of a city of a city to demand their elected representatives provide the best possible mass transport system. It's also up to the citizens to be ready to pay for the cost of such a system.
        itkermy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Agreed. The problem with the United States is how taxes are defined. Each city in a metro area has their own city tax, which each of them use to draw specific businesses and give them deals on specific land. The problem with this is a lot of businesses then build their HQ or reside in random ass areas. I saw a health insurance HQ in the middle of the desert. Miles away from anything. If lived in downtown, it would take me 1 hour with no traffic, freeway driving to get to this building. Seriously? I have many ideas on how to centralize businesses, but this isn't this article.
      ammca66564
      • 1 Year Ago
      Most riders since 1957. 1957, when the population of the US was 157,000,000. A bit less than half what it is today. Just thought I toss that out there for perspective.
        Jason J McCabe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ammca66564
        It's pretty disappointing to read anything that prefers sensational numbers in lieu of numbers that tell the true story. Shame on you and your "Senior Editor".
      atc98092
      • 1 Year Ago
      And our regional transit system (Seattle area) I siting declining ridership for raising fares and cutting routes. For me, the major issue with using public transportation for my commute is I just can't get there from here. Sure, if I make enough transfers I could likely get there, but a) not within my current work timetable and b) I'm not going to spend two hours taking the bus when I can drive in 20 minutes. I drove for Metro Transit for a year back in the 80s when Boeing laid me off. I enjoyed the work, and would have stayed on full time (if the FAA hadn't called me), but it's getting awfully dangerous to be a driver anymore with the crazy passengers.
      Astutent
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have one issue with the article. Rate is ridership per capita. # of trips / 100,000 people, or something of that nature. Having the highest amount of riders in 57 years isn't as impressive when you consider the total population has increased markedly since 1957. Total ridership, devoid of per capita context, says less about the change in transit use. To contribute to the questions; if my life/work situation was workable with transit, I'd take it. But in my situation (city -> suburb), it'd turn a 0:25 car ride into a 1:30 commute through transfers between two transit authorities, which would minimize cost savings as well as time savings.
      kingrat001
      • 1 Year Ago
      While it can be cheaper to use mass transit here in Toledo, unless you are going downtown, it's a huge hassle. You have to go downtown and change buses way too much to make it convenient at all, but at least the buses aren't the old fossils from just after WWII that they kept patching up and running until they couldn't patch them up anymore. The buses themselves are ok, it's the routes and schedules that are messed up. I rode them for about 5 days about 10 years ago, and I finally borrowed a car from a friend of mine. I couldn't take the 30 minute trip to work being over 90 minutes.
      to your email L
      • 1 Year Ago
      Actually it's easier to take public transit-the LA subway system to the LA Auto Show in Downtown LA at the Convention Center. Park (free) at North Hollywood Station (vs $12 to park at the Convention Center). Now when they get it to go from LAX to downtown that will be really great.
      Ben Lee
      • 1 Year Ago
      too bad the LA Metro rail charges another fair for changing trains.
      Bankerdanny
      • 1 Year Ago
      I live a few blocks north of the Chicago border and 3 blocks west of a L station. I work in the Loop and there is a L station basically across the street from my office. So I take the L to work most days, but beyond that I don't use public transportation that often. The buses are slow and the wait between pickups during non-rush hour times (which is to say, most of the time) can be lengthy making it very difficult to use them when you need to be somewhere at a particular time unless you are willing to give yourself a huge cushion. The trains are more frequent and faster, but they serve narrow corridors. You CAN live without a car in the city if you choose to or have to, but it takes determination and a willingness to never get anywhere quickly.
      FuelToTheFire
      • 1 Year Ago
      Public transportation is nothing more than an incentive for welfare leeches to remain welfare leeches, while we taxpayers pay for their "right" to mobility. If we didn't have public transport, maybe it would give the leeches an incentive to get a JOB and buy a car with that money.
        Terry Actill
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        You were ignorant and unhinged yesterday, but today you worse.
        Quen47
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        That would be AWESOME if everybody here in San Francisco had to commute to work in a car... ah never mind this thread is to stupid to even make a joke.
        always_busy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        FuelToTheFire is a troll and has been so for a long time. Read old articles and you will see what I am talking about. His insanity is good for the occasional chuckle but that is all.
        CoolWaters
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        The insane Republican mind. Make things worse for people at the bottom, and suddenly a miracle occurs. WHERE ARE THE JOBS, you know, the ones YOU SHIPPED To CHINA. When there are jobs in the cities, the applicants outnumber the jobs 100 to 1, to 1000 to 1. The only Leech here is Corporate America, which gets a Tax Credit to shut down factories in America, Thanks Republicans, but a Propaganda network to fool the easily fooled, and has swindled the public out of 88 BILLION dollars this year alone. But, right here is the Difference between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans create racists MYTHS. Democrats do Social Studies for the MOST Effective Ways to Reduce Poverty which as a byproduct INCREASES BUSINESS. Small business Benefits from a large middle class society. And does poorly under the LEECH Republican Mythos of Government.
          FuelToTheFire
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          And who are the most productive members of society? That's right, the ones at the top. They are job creators and benefit the rest of society. These peasants are fundamentally unproductive. When was the last time a poor person gave you a job? That's right, never. Why shouldn't Corporate America get tax breaks? You are only looking at the short term consequences. In the end, they will have more profits, which means that they will invest more money back into the economy and create JOBS in the process. Why do you people always belittle the very people who provide you jobs and build the economy? We should respect and reward the sucessful and wealthy, not punish them for being successful and wealthy. If Democrats were truly interested in reducing poverty, poverty would gone down under Obama. There are more people living in poverty and on food stamps today than when our prez took office. What you are suggesting is the government backing up businesses which are GUARANTEED to fail. Darwinism works in all aspects of society and the economy.Only the fittest survive These smaller businesses cannot offer the same products at the same prices as large corporations, that is why they go out of business.Monopolies and centralization of business all are natural byproducts of competition. The "middle class" is little more than a catchphrase progressive politicians use to lure in ignorant peasant commoner voters who think they are worth a damn. There is no such thing as the middle class. There are successful people. And then there are leeches. Take an econ class or two. You might learn.
        Mr.MagicXyX
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        if thats true than WHOLE LONDON is full of LEECHERS would you agree? i think British Pound is stronger then US Dollar.
          FuelToTheFire
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Mr.MagicXyX
          Congratulations on taking two completely different topics and trying to tie them together to counter my rational, reasonable argument. You went to public school, didn't you? Did you even graduate high school?
        CoolWaters
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Here's some Leeches for you, Shock Corporate America! Shock, the biggest Funders of the Republican Party: The Koch Brothers, ripping off Republican tax payers. Why isn't it great to have all the suckers watch Fox News, and Never Hear about the Rampant Republican Business Fraud going on? Why it's almost as if That's Fox's Job! http://inthesetimes.com/article/16362/the_real_welfare_queens
          CoolWaters
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          Here's something else not on Fox Lies: Republicans Lie about Obamacare: Apparently, there's not one true story about Obamacare in the Republican Media: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/10/obamacare-attack-ad_n_4937650.html
          CoolWaters
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          I know Terry, not directed at you.
          Terry Actill
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          I was criticizing FuelToTheFire not CoolWaters.
      i.own.your.ass
      • 1 Year Ago
      Americans know about Gm RECALLS and tesla fires
      Mr.MagicXyX
      • 1 Year Ago
      Public transportation should be expanded at large scale in USA.... ONLY if the following crook$ lets you...!!!!!!! - Auto-manufacturers - Oil companies - Insurance companies They will lobby your back out!!!!
        FuelToTheFire
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mr.MagicXyX
        You may bash these companies ALL you want, but in the end, they create JOBS. They invest money back into the economy, which creates even more jobs. The government, on the other hand, cannot create jobs. Period.
          sensibility2
          • 1 Year Ago
          @FuelToTheFire
          Really? Go ask African countries how they are faring without a meaning government to put things in order. Heck, head over to Europe and Asia, you will see a few of them. Be thankful for the system we have. A little bit of a meaningful education will help too. There is a reason why Americans account for the most billionaires and millionaires of the world bar none.
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