More people using public transit, report says
More people are going back to work, and many of them are using public transit to get there, according to The New York Times. The newspaper reports that Americans took 200 million more rides on subways, commuter trains, buses and other public transit in 2011 than the year before.
An estimated 60 percent of transit rides are taken by people commuting to and from work. The uptick in transit ridership last year, as shown in a new report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), parallels recent improvements in the nation’s jobs picture.
Transit ridership increased sharply in those areas that gained employment, including Miami, Nashville, San Francisco, San Diego and Louisville. Rising gas prices also helped boost transit ridership, APTA president and CEO Michael Melaniphy said in a news release.
“U.S. public transportation ridership in 2011 is now the second highest ridership since 1957,” Melaniphy said. “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.”
The uptick in transit ridership comes as transit advocates press for Congress to approve a multi-year transportation bill. Republicans in the House of Representatives proposed ending the practice of dedicating part of the gasoline tax to fund public transportation.
Opponents said the House bill, which would end a three-decades practice of sharing gas tax funds with the states, could lead to drastic cutbacks in state transportation budgets. Faced with wide opposition, Republican House leaders say they are revamping the proposal.
“There should be no doubt Americans need and want public transportation,” Melaniphy said. “Congress needs to pass a well-funded, multimodal, multi-year transportation bill that will help meet current and growing demand.”