As gasoline prices creep ever upward, investment in public transportation is paying off.
The American Public Transportation Association reports that ridership is up 32% since 1995, more than double the rate of population growth. The association tracked usage from 2006 to 2007 in four categories:
- Light rail (streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys): up 6.1%. Biggest gains were in New Orleans (129%); Denver (66%); Saint Louis (27%); Philadelphia (26%); Kenosha, Wis., (19%); New Jersey (15%); and Memphis (11%).
- Commuter rail: up 5.5%. Biggest gains were in Nashville (258%); Santa Fe (97%); Harrisburg, Pa. (41%); Seattle (27%); Oakland, Calif. (14%); Dallas/Fort Worth (12%); Stockton, Calif. (12%); Portland, Maine (12%); and Pompano Beach, Fla. (10%).
- Subways: up 3%, with San Juan, Puerto Rico (13%), and Atlanta (10%) posting the largest gains.
- Buses: up 1% overall, but 6% in communities with fewer than 100,000 residents.