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.
March 11, 2009, 12pm PDT | Judy Chang
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"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."

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Published on Monday, March 9, 2009 in The New York Times
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