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The past decade has been a rough one for American transit ridership. Since 2010, eight of the top ten largest U.S. urban areas have lost ridership, and even those that have gained ridership are losing riders on a per capita basis. In France the opposite is true, over the same period, all ten of the country’s largest cities have seen an increase in transit ridership.
In a blog post for The Transport Politic, Yonah Freemark argues the key driver for these trends is investment. "Most medium and large French cities have invested in tramway services; length of those lines increased from about 115 miles nationwide in 2000 to 515 miles today," Freemark reports. In cities in the United States, transit services aren’t keeping up with population: "Between 2010 and 2018, vehicle-miles provided by New York region transit services actually declined by 1.6 percent even as population increased by 4.6 percent," Freemark writes.