More and more people are ditching their cars for buses and trains.
According to USA Today on March 11, ridership on transit systems across America rose 1.5%, which is equates to 10.5 billion trips on transit in 2012. Despite Superstorm Sandy disrupting some of the nation's biggest transit systems, according to the American Transportation Association, 16 transit systems across the country reported record ridership statistics in 2012.
Michael Melaniphy, president and CEO of APTA, explained the ridership numbers to USA Today.
When Sandy hit, and the snowstorm that followed it, an estimated 74 million (transit) trips were lost, and yet we still had the second-highest ridership since 1957.
The spike in transit ridership was partly driven by the rise in gas prices, and according to Melaniphy, the spike in gas prices is changing the way Americans get around. Melaniphy explained to USA Today:
In the last 18 months or so, we've seen prices be very volatile. When you think about the impact of that on your budget, when you can't count on your transportation cost being consistent day over day, week over week, that’s really hard on the budget.
A report by the National Conference of State Legislatures in 2012 said that the affordability of transit is likely playing a role in the growth of ridership. The report also states that a person using public transit an save $10,000 a year over a person who drives. The report also states that Baby Boomers, empty-nesters and young professionals are using more public transit. Melaniphy told USA Today:
We're seeing record transit ridership on systems all over the country, in the Midwest, the East, The South, the North and the West.
Who are the top transit performers?
- Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (TheRide) in Michigan experienced a 6.6 percent increase in ridership, which equates to 6.6 million trips in 2012
- Sound Transit in Washington State rose 12 percent in 2012, the highest in the transit agency's 14-year history.
Transit agencies across the country are hoping that ridership will grow even more in 2013.