Public Transit Ridership at 52-Year High

Since the creation of the Interstate highway system, Americans have never ridden public transportation as heavily as they did in 2008. This year, however, the upward trend will probably not continue.

"Ridership surged after gasoline prices hit $4 a gallon last summer and held steady in the fall after gas prices fell, the report found. But few experts expect the growth to continue this year, in part because transit systems across the country are raising fares and cutting service as the tax revenue they rely on plummets during the recession.

But for transit operators, last year's mark was something to savor. It was the most trips on public transit since 1956, when Elvis Presley released 'Heartbreak Hotel,' Soviet tanks quashed an uprising in Hungary, and Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which created the Interstate highway system and lured commuters to trade in their tokens and bus tickets for car keys.

Transit officials were especially heartened that Americans continued to turn to public transportation in the last quarter of the year, even after gas prices dropped."

Full Story: Transit Use Hit Five-Decade High in 2008 as Gas Prices Rose



Why not provide the auto bailout money to transit?

It seems strange that billions are proposed for bailing out failed auto companies in the light of this. People have decisively shown their preference for travel. Why not give the money for the auto bailout to transit? Some manufacturers may be able to get contracts to build more mass transit vehicles. Many others could be employed as drivers or in the creation of cashless payment systems on transit vehicles (such as used in Chicago (the Chicago Card)). It would help support jobs and give people transit that they prefer and transit which is scaled to their earning power.

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