June 22, 2009
Ridership Exceeds Expectations in First Quarter of 2009
Public transportation agencies throughout the nation reported a total of nearly 2.6 billion trips in the first quarter of 2009, according to APTA statistics released June 15 by APTA President William Millar. This amount nearly matched last year’s modern record first quarter ridership—declining by only 1.2 percent, which is still less than the decline of vehicle miles traveled on the nation’s roads (1.7 percent, representing 11.6 billion vehicle miles) during the same period, according to U.S. DOT.
“Public transportation ridership remains strong and has exceeded expectations, despite cheaper gas prices in the first quarter and a faltering job market,” Millar said.“This year’s first-quarter ridership continues to show strong public demand for public transportation and how essential it is for millions of Americans.”
Quarterly Ridership Breakdown
Eighteen out of 29 light rail systems (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) reported increased ridership for the first quarter of 2009, a total of 1.8 percent for the sector. Light rail systems in four cities saw double-digit increases in the quarter: Tampa (40.5 percent); Baltimore (24.4 percent); New Orleans (18.0 percent); and Seattle (16.8 percent).
Among heavy rail systems (subways and elevated trains), seven out of 15 experienced ridership increases in the first three months of 2009 over the same period in 2008. The largest increases in ridership occurred in San Juan, PR (14.1 percent); Los Angeles (6.4 percent); Philadelphia (5.4 percent); Washington, DC (4.5 percent); and Chicago (4.4 percent).
Twelve out of 24 commuter rail systems reported ridership increases during the quarter. Albuquerque, NM, reported a 220.9 percent increase for the first quarter because of a new commuter rail system, followed by New Haven, CT (12.6 percent); Dallas-Fort Worth (11.0 percent); Boston (5.4 percent); and Pompano Beach, FL (5.0 percent).
Thirteen out of 30 large bus systems reported ridership increases. Among large bus systems, these showed the highest increases: San Diego (5.3 percent); Phoenix (5.2 percent); Oakland, CA (4.9 percent); Detroit (4.4 percent); and Baltimore (4.3 percent). Demand response (paratransit) increased in the first quarter of 2009 by 3.8 percent.
The complete APTA ridership report is available online.