More Americans opted to travel using public transportation last year than any year since 1956, a statistic that defies the conventional wisdom that such numbers only rise when gas prices are peaking.
A report released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association said 10.65 billion trips were taken on U.S. subways, busses and trains in 2013, topping the previous post-1950s peak of 10.59 billion in 2008.
Gas prices were lower last year than they were in 2008, when a gallon of fuel cost between $4 and $5, but strengthening economic growth and urban living saw more riders choosing a public option anyway.
“We’re seeing a fundamental shift in how people are moving about their communities," said Micahel Melaniphy, the president of the APTA. "We’re seeing that where cities have invested in transit, their unemployment rates have dropped, and employment is going up because people can get there."
Ridership grew 37 percent between 1995 and 2013, outpacing population growth (20 percent) and vehicle miles traveled (23 percent), according to the APTA's data. In the past year alone, ridership increased by 1.1 percent from 2012 to 2013, mostly in rail and bus services in smaller cities.
[New York Times]