WASHINGTON - Record numbers of Americans rode subways, buses and commuter rail last year, boosting public transportation ridership to its highest level in 52 years, according to a survey to be released today by the American Public Transportation Association.
"Now, more than ever, the value of public transportation is evident ..." said association President William Millar.
The 10.7 billion transit trips Americans took last year amounted to a 4 percent increase over trips taken in 2007; at the same time, Americans drove measurably less, the Transportation Department said. The increase is significant because cheaper gasoline and job losses tend to drive down transit ridership; almost 60 percent of transit riders go to work. The survey found ridership rose on 14 of the nation's subway systems (3.5 percent), 20 of 21 commuter rail systems (4.7 percent) and 20 of 26 light-rail systems (8.3 percent). Bus service increased 3.9 percent, but ridership on systems serving populations of less than 100,000 rose 9.3 percent.