U.S. Public Transit Ridership Hits 57-Year Peak

U.S. Public Transit Ridership Hits 57-Year Peak

According to a new report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), 2013 had the largest number of users of American public transit systems in the last 57 years. 10.7 billion Americans road trains, subways, light rail, and buses last year.

APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy commented on the figures presented from the report, saying “access to public transportation matters. Community leaders know that public transportation investment drives community growth and economic revitalization.” Public transportation, including access to alternative means of transportation (biking and walking), can benefit a community in many ways. The White Flint district’s proximity to a Metro station provides many incentives for businesses and organizations to come to area, allowing for the district to grow economically. Access to public transportation also allows more people  “the opportunity to reach jobs.” People who do not have access to cars are able to get to jobs in the DC. In addition, the BRT system that is coming to Montgomery County will allow Montgomery County residents to travel around the county, which will also provide more opportunities for residents to access jobs in the county.

The report focused on the comparison between car-ridership and public transit ridership. Though Americans drove 0.6 percent more than 2012, it was found that Americans used public transit 1.1 percent more than the year before.

The breakdown of public transit ridership numbers from 2013 are as follows:

  • Heavy rails, which include subways and elevated trains: ridership increased 2.8 percent.
  • Commuter rail: increased by 2.1 percent.
  • Light rail, which include streetcars and trolleys: increased by 1.6 percent,
  • Bus: In cities with a population below 100,000, bus ridership was up 3.8 percent. For larger bus systems, there were a few cities that had a 3 percent or more increased ridership, including Washington, D.C. with a 3.5 percent increase.

These numbers show us how important public transit systems are the economic health of our cities and urban areas. As ridership continues to grow, we need to focus attention on the infrastructure of our public transit systems. Check out the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s forum on Metro’s Momentum plan to learn more and to have a chance to provide your thoughts and ideas for making the Metro system better for the county.

Rebecca Hertz


Rebecca Hertz is the Assistant Executive Director of Friends of White Flint. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in International Development and Social Change from Clark University, Worcester Massachusetts in 2012. She completed her Master’s Degree from Clark University, as well, in Community Development and Planning in 2013. She is interested in how built environments impact the health and growth of communities. Prior to this role, she worked as a youth worker and mentor for several non-profit organizations in Maryland and Massachusetts. She grew up in Rockville, MD and has recently moved back to the region.

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