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U.S. Transit Ridership Growing Again

The growth in transit rips in the United States over the course of the second and third quarters of 2019 can be traced to growth in two key cities.
January 21, 2020, 8am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Alexander Baxevanis

Laura Bliss shares news of new data from the National Transit Database that reveals the first evidence of a turnaround for transit ridership in the United States.

Ridership across U.S. public transit agencies rose 2.2 percent compared to the same time period in 2018, the American Public Transportation Association reported last month. This was the second consecutive quarter to mark an increase, and the first consecutive quarter to post an increase since the end of 2014, when ridership hit a 50-year peak. The uptick in ridership between Q3 2019 and Q3 2018 amounted to about 54 million more trips.

According to the article, the overall increase in transit riders can be credited to massive improvements in two regions: New York City and Washington, D.C. After years of reliability and maintenance crises, writes Bliss, "both have since made substantial improvements, including a year of 24/7 track maintenance in D.C. and nearly $800 million of signal upgrades, drain clearing, and employee overtime payouts in New York."

As noted by Bliss, the two systems have a ways still to go to reach previous peaks of ridership. Meanwhile, ridership continues to decline elsewhere in the country, including in major cities like Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority celebrated Metrorail's ridership recovery with a press released published a few days after Bliss's article.

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Published on Monday, January 13, 2020 in CityLab
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