Milwaukee transit ridership down, bucking national trend

A new report from the American Public Transportation Association shows public transit ridership in the United States is at its highest level in 57 years, with more than 10 billion trips taken using public transportation in 2013.

In Milwaukee County, however, public transportation ridership dropped more than 2 percent, the report says, with 1 million fewer rides taken on the Milwaukee County buses in 2013 than in 2012.

Ridership in Racine also dropped by more than 4 percent from 2012 to 2013, with more than 50,000 fewer rides taken on the city’s Belle Urban System.

Nationally, the report says, public transit ridership increased by 1.1 percent, while vehicle miles traveled on roads went up only 0.3 percent.

“Last year people took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation.  As the highest annual ridership number since 1956, Americans in growing numbers want to have more public transit services in their communities,” said Peter Varga, APTA chair and chief executive officer of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, Mich.  “Public transportation systems nationwide – in small, medium, and large communities – saw ridership increases. Some reported all-time high ridership numbers.”

Some of the public transit agencies reporting record ridership system-wide or on specific lines were located in the following cities:  Ann Arbor, MI; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Espanola, NM; Flagstaff, AZ; Fort Myers, FL; Indianapolis, IN; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oakland, CA; Pompano Beach, FL; Riverside, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Carlos, CA; Tampa, FL; Yuma, AZ; and  New York, NY.

Since 1995 public transit ridership is up 37.2 percent, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3 percent, and vehicle miles traveled, which is up 22.7 percent, the report says.

“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities.  People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth,” said Michael Melaniphy, APTA president and CEO.

To see the complete APTA 2013 ridership report, click here.

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