Led by rail transit, public transit ridership rose 0.1% in the second quarter of 2010 compared with the second quarter in 2009, according to a report released Tuesday by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). APTA said the ridership gain, while modest, is the first increase in six quarters.
Sixteen out of 28 light rail systems reported an increase inridership for the second quarter of 2010 as light rail ridership increased nationally by 4.2% in the second quarter of 2010.
Eleven out of 15 heavy rail systems (subways and elevated trains) experienced ridership increases from April through June of 2010 over the same period in 2009. Nationally, heavy rail ridership increased by 2.2%.
Regional or “commuter” rail ridership declined 0.4% during the second quarter, though 13 out of 27 regional/commuter systems reported ridership increases, APTA said.
Bus ridership decreased nationally by 1.7%, though small bus systems serving populations below 100,000 notched a 3.1% gain, APTA said.
Said APTA President William Millar, “History shows that as the economy grows, public transit ridership tends to increase. This rise in ridership offers a glimmer of hope that we may be coming out of the economic recession and ridership will continue to move upward.”
Noting that a federal public transit funding bill has not passed, while local and state funding support has suffered, Millar said, “To maintain our public transportation systems and expand them to meet growing demand as the economyrecovers, we need to have government at all levels—federal, state, and local—adequately invest in public transportation. Regrettably, facing revenue shortfalls, many transit systems must still raise fares, reduce service, and/orlay off staff in order to balance their budgets.”
“September 30 is the one-year anniversary of the expiration of the last federal surface transportation legislation that funded public transportation,” said Millar. “Congress needs to act as soon as possible to pass a new multi-year surface transportation authorization bill so that we can move forward in improving our public transportation systems for the millions of people who depend on their services every day.”