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Americans riding public transit in record numbers

March 10, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Americans are boarding public buses, trains and subways in greater numbers than any time in half a century.

Nearly 10.7 billion trips in 2013, to be precise — the highest total since 1956, according to ridership data reported by transit systems nationally and released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association.

Transit ridership has now fully recovered from a dip caused by the Great Recession. With services restored following economy-driven cutbacks, ridership numbers appear set to continue what had been a steady increase.

“People are making a fundamental shift to having options” aside from a car in how they get around, said Michael Melaniphy, president and CEO of the public transportation association. “This is a long-term trend.”

Expanding bus and train networks help push the growth.

Houston, which has been more notable for its sprawl than its public transportation offerings, had a large ridership gain. So did Seattle, Miami, Denver and San Diego. The New York area’s huge transit network saw the greatest gain, accounting for one in three trips nationally.

Transit advocates argue that the public increasingly values the ability to get around without a car. They offer as evidence the nation’s urban shift and the movement to concentrate new development around transit hubs.

“People want to work and live along transit lines,” Melaniphy said. “Businesses, universities and housing are all moving along those corridors.”

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Contact Justin Pritchard: https://twitter.com/lalanewsman

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