Issue of the Day: Public Transit Use on the Rise as Miles Trend Downward
Project America - Issue of the Day: Public Transit Use on the Rise as Miles Trend Downward

Published Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

According to the Department of Transportation and the American Public Transportation Association, the number of miles traveled by vehicles in the United States fell by 3.6% in 2008, the number of trips taken on public transit increased by 4.0%. The total estimated number of miles driven in 2008 is 2.922 trillion, down from 3.030 trillion in 2007. This is a reduction of nearly 115 billion miles. The biggest drop was in the rural areas, as driving in these areas dropped by 4.2%, followed by urban areas which dropped by 3.2%. The increase in public transport usage may be attributed to the gradual 14 month decrease in miles driven by U.S. drivers.

Overall, transit ridership reached an overall 52 year high as U.S. residents took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation. In fact, light rail increased the greatest at 8.3% due partly to new and expanded services in Charlotte, North Carolina, and restored services in New Orleans, Louisiana. As for the other mass transit modes, Commuter Rail increased by 4.7%, subway ridership increased by 3.5%, bus ridership increased by 3.9%, and on-demand transit increased by 5.9%. Many of the transportation vehicles have not actually risen with demand, only the Bus services have slowly increased its fleet. As a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the President has given $8.4 billion to invest in public transit “to move us towards our long term goals of energy security and a better quality of life.”

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