Politics Passengers on Muni's T streetcar line

Published on March 13th, 2009 | by Rhonda Winter


Public Transit Ridership Skyrockets

Passengers on Muni's T streetcar line

More people than ever are now using mass transit in the United States. Ridership on trains, buses, ferries and subways is at record levels, according to a survey just released by the American Public Transportation Association. Their study reports that:

“…despite falling gas prices and an economic recession, increasing numbers of Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation in 2008, the highest level of ridership in 52 years and a modern ridership record, and a 4% increase from 2007.”


More Mass Transit & Rail Needed


Livable city and transit advocates explain that this ridership increase clearly demonstrates the growing support for more high speed rail and public transportation in this country.  APTA President William W. Millar explained:

“Now, more than ever, the value of public transportation is evident, and the public has clearly demonstrated that they want and need more public transit services. Even as gas prices fell for the second half of the year and hundreds of thousands of people lost jobs, more and more people chose to ride public transportation throughout the country.

Given our current economic condition, people are looking for ways to save money and taking public transportation offers a substantial savings of more than $8,000 a year. That’s quite a savings.”

Even more exciting are the expanded possibilities for future public transit and high speed rail options. President Obama’s economic stimulus plan includes an 8.4 billion dollar investment in mass transit infrastructure to help improve bicycle, rail and transit systems throughout the country. The polluting inefficient car-centered model of transport is rapidly dying; creating a more viable public transportation and rail system is absolutely vital to restructuring our nation’s flaccid economy.

It looks like the United States is finally beginning to realize that intelligent investment in public transit is the sustainable path for the future of our country.

Train Station in Frankfurt GermanyPerhaps one day U.S. public transit will rival Europe’s infrastructure?

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was raised by wolves, and subsequently has difficulty interacting with other humans; she can also be found on and Twitter.

7 Responses to Public Transit Ridership Skyrockets

  1. I have definitely noticed more MARTA riders lately! The trains have been more crowded since gas prices hit $4, and I’m glad to see it’s not dwindling now that prices are low again!

  2. Mass transit systems in San Francisco are totally busting at the seams too. I am cautiously optimistic that our nation is on the cusp of a major paradigm shift in how we address transportation.

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  6. This is encouraging, BUT the report is from 2008. We need more current data. Things can change dramatically over the course of 3 years. I hope the new data would see this trend continue, but without more current figures it’s impossible to say that ridership is skyrocketing.

    • If you look at the date on this post, you can see that this article was written nearly three years ago, shortly after the data on increased public transit ridership was released, and the numbers were current at that time.

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