Despite low gas prices and fewer commuters (no job = no commute), transit ridership continues to rise. In fact, according to the American Public Transportation Association, ridership in 2008 was 4% higher than in 2007 (the highest it’s been in 52 years), while vehicle miles traveled declined by almost the same amount. Transit geeks aren’t the only folks taking note, either. The issue is the top headline on MSNBC today.
From an APTA press release:
…Americans continue to ride public transportation at record levels even though gas prices declined. More than 2.8 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the third quarter of 2008 — an increase of 6.5 percent over the third quarter of 2007. This is the largest quarterly increase in public transportation ridership in 25 years. Meanwhile, vehicle miles of travel (VMT) on the nation’s highways declined in the same period by 4.6 percent according to the Federal Highway Administration.
“The record increase in public transportation trips demonstrates the exceptional value of public transportation in today’s economy,” said APTA President William W. Millar. “The fact that public transit ridership surged while gas prices and highway travel declined, shows a growing demand for more bus and rail services.”
Say that. Now all we need is some money to fund that “exceptional value.”
Sorry for not keeping you guys up to date on this stuff. I’d like to say I’ve been too busy to post, but the truth is, I’ve been completely obsessed with the upcoming election–both Prop 1 and the presidential stuff (OK, mostly the presidential stuff). I can’t stop thinking and reading about it; it’s even interfering with my sleep.
May I have my ballot now, please?
King County Metro Transit bus ridership increased a record-setting 7 percent last year with an estimated 110 million passenger boardings in 2007.…
These preliminary estimates will be finalized in March, but it is believed to be the largest annual ridership increase for Metro in the past 10 years.
(And I thought 2006 was a good year.)
It’s good to see individuals making changes (taking advantage of new Transit Now service, perhaps?), despite the fact that our region has been (and is being) more than a little slow to move beyond the car.
County Kingpin, on the increase:
This shift in driving habits not only helps in the fight to reduce global warming, it increases the capacity of our roads and highways during the high-demand commute times,” Sims said. “With more buses and improved service coming on-line from our voter-approved Transit Now initiative, it will be easier every year for even more people to include the bus as their travel choice.
To all the new riders: thanks, and happy busing. I guess everybody really is doing it.
From today’s American Public Transportation Association press release:
WASHINGTON, DC – If you thought you were seeing more riders during your daily public transit trips, it’s not your imagination. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced today that Americans took 10.1 billion trips on local public transportation in 2006 – the first time in 49 years. Over the last decade, public transportation’s growth rate outpaced the growth rate of the population and the growth rate of vehicle miles traveled on our nation’s highways.
“This significant ridership milestone is part of a multi-year trend as more and more Americans ride public transit to get to destinations important to them, while realizing the benefits of saving money and avoiding congestion,” said William W. Millar, president of APTA. “Public transit ridership helps reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and decreases our contribution to global warming; but ultimately, this milestone represents 10 billion reasons to increase local and federal investment in public transportation.“
Busfather and I represented Seattle (which, by the way, saw a 12.1% increase in bus ridership) in APTA’s video release about this same issue. It’s intended to play on local news programs across the country. I don’t know when or where it’s airing, but if I can find it online, I’ll post it here.