First quarter of 2012 shows more people are switching to transit

By Bill Holloway

As per-capita VMT has begun to decline, an increasing number of people are riding the nation’s transit systems. According to APTA (American Public Transportation Association), transit ridership in the first quarter of 2012 increased 5 percent over 2011 levels. Light rail ridership led the way with a 6.7 percent increase, followed by heavy rail systems which saw a 5.5 percent increase. The Memphis light rail system led the pack with 45 percent more passenger trips since the first quarter last year. In addition, a number of transit systems across the U.S. reported their highest ridership ever. Bus systems did not experience the same rate of growth as rail transit but still saw a significant jump in ridership. Key factors cited by APTA in accounting for increasing transit ridership were high gas prices and the increasing availability of real-time transit information online and via smartphone apps.

Bill Holloway is a Transportation Policy Analyst at SSTI.