Kaid Benfield Archive


Three-fourths of US cities have seen increases in public transit usage

Kaid Benfield

Posted July 21, 2008 at 8:03PM

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I reported back in the spring that, based on 2007 data, ridership on public transportation in the US was up 32 percent from 1995 and that, in 2007, ridership was at its highest point in 50 years.

public transportation in Gainesville, FL (by: Douglas Green, Wikimedia commons)I also noted that, after a long period of sustained growth in driving, aggregate vehicle miles traveled are now going down nationwide.  Central cities are now growing again, and claiming a much larger share of regional growth in their locations.  While sparked by the unfortunate pain of gasoline prices and a precipitous drop in home values on the fringe of metro areas, this is welcome news for the environment.  Smart growth is working.

Along with the rise in demand for alternatives to now-expensive driving, however, is the strain being put on public transportation systems.  We need more investment in public transit and we need it now.

Our friends at Environmental Defense have released an analysis showing that fully three-fourths of American cities are experiencing increases in transit use.  Ridership in Jonesboro, Arkansas, for example, doubled in one year.

On the map below, the darker the green, the bigger the percentage increase in public transportation use.

cities all over the US are seeing increased transit use (by: Environmental Defense)   

Visit ED’s blog, where the map is interactive, and see how the numbers change when you move your cursor over the various locations.  The post also contains a list of the ten cities showing the biggest increase, along with those showing a decrease. 

Lots more information on transit use, of course, from the site of the American Public Transportation Association.