Skip to main content

Originally published March 9, 2014 at 8:01 PM | Page modified March 10, 2014 at 8:40 AM

  • Share:
  • Comments (17)
  • Print

Increasing numbers of Americans ride public transit

Seattle was among the cities that saw large ridership gains.

The Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
You forgot to mention the thousands of drivers that use their vehicles for their JOBS. MORE
hey, since more people are using PT time to raise the prices so it can pay for itself... MORE
Check you latest car registration bill. Note how much you already pay in fees for tran... MORE


LOS ANGELES — Americans are boarding public buses, trains and subways in greater numbers than at any time since the suburbs began booming.

Nearly 10.7 billion trips in 2013, to be precise — the highest total since 1956, according to ridership data reported by transit systems nationally and released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association.

Seattle, Houston, Miami, Denver and San Diego had large ridership gains.

The New York area’s behemoth transit network saw a gain, accounting for one in three trips nationally.

Transit ridership has fully recovered from a dip caused by the Great Recession. With services restored after economy-driven cutbacks, ridership numbers appear set to continue what had been a steady increase.

“People are making a fundamental shift to having options” aside from a car in how they get around, said Michael Melaniphy, president and CEO of the transportation association. “This is a long-term trend. This isn’t just a blip.”

Expanding bus and train networks help spur the growth.

Ridership on Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s light-rail trains increased 6 percent over 2012, as the public took advantage of an expanded network of lines.

Overall, LA Metro gained 9 million trips to reach 478 million in 2013, the transportation association said.

Among the other transit systems in California with record ridership was the Caltrain commuter-rail service that connects San Francisco with Silicon Valley.

Transit advocates argue that the public increasingly values the ability to get around without a car. They offer as evidence the nation’s urban shift and the movement to concentrate new development around transit hubs.

“People want to work and live along transit lines,” Melaniphy said. “Businesses, universities and housing are all moving along those corridors.”

Ridership up
Here’s a look at which areas saw the biggest gains
Urban areaAgencyIncrease in unlinked passenger trips 2012 to 2013Percent increase
New York CityNew York City Transit Authority120,635,7003.6 percent
Los AngelesLos Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority9,194,2002
New York CityNew Jersey Transit4,049,7001.5
SeattleKing County Department of Transportation3,204,4002.7
MiamiMiami-Dade Transit Agency2,493,8002.3
attleSound Transit2,341,6008.4
DenverRegional Transportation District2,257,5002.6
HoustonMetro Transit Authority2,257,0002.7
San DiegoMetropolitan Transit System2,230,0002.6
Source: American Public Transportation

Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Time to add another piece to your Hawks collection

Time to add another piece to your Hawks collection

Check out the full lineup of championship merchandise from The Seattle Times store.


Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►