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Mass Transit Soars in 1999, 2000

Light Rail Progress – March 2001

Myth: "Overall transit ridership is declining in the USA ... public transit is declining into irrelevance." That's the line from a chorus of anti-transit zealots, from Wendell Cox, Peter Gordon, and Tom Rubin to sour rightwing "think tanks" like the Reason Foundation, Cascade institute, and Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Reality: That's consummate baloney, with mustard. Mass transit ridership is soaring.

At least two recent American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reports show that transit ridership has increased over the last four years and now stands at the highest level since 1960. Transit ridership is growing at more than twice the rate of motor vehicle travel. These gains have been widely reported in the national media. Perhaps anti-transit Road Warriors hope we don't read the paper or remember what we read.

Public Transport Ended 1900s With Record Ridership

In 1999, Americans took more than 9 billion trips on public transportation, helping mass transit achieve the highest ridership in nearly four decades. This record ridership represents the highest level since the advent of the federal transit program.

Public transportation usage continues to outpace growth in other modes of transportation such as airlines and highways. Last year, public transportation ridership increased by 4.5 percent over 1998, outstripping growth in other travel modes. Airline travel grew by 3 percent increase over the same time period while motor vehicle travel grew by 2 percent.

1999's level of public transportation usage marked the fourth straight year of ridership increases and amounted to an increase of over 15 percent increase since 1995.

Ridership Surge Continued in 2000

Americans continued to ride public transit in record numbers on into 2000. For the first quarter of 2000, the nation's public transportation systems recorded a 4.8 increase in ridership over the same period in 1999, according to APTA's newly released 2000 transit ridership quarterly report.
APTA News Release July 17, 2000

The continuing increase in ridership built on 1999's year-end total of more than 9 billion trips – as noted above, the highest peak in annual ridership since 1960. Total ridership in 1999 was 4.5 percent higher than in the previous year.

Supporters of light rail and other mass transit need to tell the naysayers: Wake up and smell the coffee!

Light Rail Progress Rev. 2001/03/16


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