U.S. Transit Ridership Highest Since 1957

I thought this USA Today story I spotted on Planetizen today was interesting. In 2006, U.S. transit ridership in topped 10 billion trips, the highest level of use seen since 1957. Of course, this is puny compared to the historical peak of 23.4 billion trips in 1946, but it’s also much higher than the postwar low of 6.5 billion trips in 1972. If some quick calculations are correct, last year’s ridership is still the highest in the past ten years even if population increase is taken into account.

U.S. Transit Ridership, 1996-2005

(Numbers are in 1,000’s on scale above)

Increased ridership on D.C.’s WMATA system was cited by the USA Today story as one example, and readers will remember last summer saw a series of record-breaking days when the system carried passengers on over 780,000 trips. (Statistics junkies will be reminded that since 2005 Metro has posted daily ridership figures for Metrorail.) With the Cherry Blossom Festival and start of Washington’s tourist season rapidly approaching, this summer could very well prove Metro’s busiest yet.

Over the past nine years, overall system ridership has steadily increased, although Metrobus at a much slower rate than rail.

WMATA Ridership, 1996-2005
(Again, numbers are in 1,000’s on scale above)

Author: Rob Goodspeed