Public Transportation Lawyers Note Big Increase in Number of Trips

Our Portland public transportation injury lawyers believe there may be a distinct correlation between the rising price of gasoline and the increased reliance on public transport; not a bad thing provided the public are given adequate protection from injury when using public transport services.

The recently released American Public Transportation Association (APTA) report shows the huge number of journeys being taken on public transport in 2011 was second only to the year 1957 in ridership. In all, a staggering 10.4 billion trips were taken on public transportation in 2011. The only time the figure was higher than that was in 2008, when gas surpassed $4 per gallon. The study’s figures also showed:

  • Between 2010 and 2011, there was a 2.3 percent increase in ridership nationally.
  • 2011 marked the sixth year in a row when more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems across America.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, and in spite of the increase in the number of trips taken, the actual vehicle miles of travel (VMTs) fell by 1.2 percent.

Increases Show Support for Public Transportation Has Also Risen

The increases in ridership aren’t just occurring in major metropolitan areas, a fact particularly pleasing to APTA President Michael Melaniphy. “What is exciting is that the uptick in ridership occurred in large, medium and small communities, showing the broad support that public transportation has nationwide,” Melaniphy said, then added, “In fact, the largest rage of growth was in rural communities with populations under 100,000, where public transport use increased by 5.4 percent.”

Melaniphy agrees with public transportation injury lawyers regarding the reason for increased use of public transport. He feels higher gas prices are definitely a factor in people’s decisions to use buses, light rail, subway and train services. Melaniphy also sees the recovering economy as another potential reason for increased ridership. He pointed out that almost 60 percent of trips taken on public transport vehicles are to get to or from work, so he says it’s not surprising to see ridership increase in areas where the economy has picked up.

Phone Apps Help Increase Public Transportation Usability

Being able to track train and bus arrival and departure times by perusing a timetable with print so small you needed a microscope to read it was a problem up to even a few years ago. Now, however, there has been an explosion in the number of apps that can be downloaded which allows public transportation users to easily track when their bus is arriving, or when their train will be pulling out of the station. This is undoubtedly making public transportation more attractive and less of a mystery to many Americans.

With gas prices showing no signs of subsiding anytime soon, Melaniphy feels the government should be channeling resources into making public transportation more attractive still. He said, “There should be no doubt Americans need and want public transportation. Congress needs to pass a well-funded, multimodal, multi-year transportation bill that will help meet current and growing demand.”

Results of the 2011 APTA Report

Some of the results of the 2011 APTA survey showed that:

  • Light rail systems such as modern streetcars, trolleys and heritage trolleys saw a 4.9 percent increase in ridership. Some of the greatest increases observed took place in cities like:
    • Seattle—37.2%
    • Dallas, Texas—31.2%
    • Buffalo, NY—15.6%
    • Salt Lake City—14.4%
    • New Orleans—11.3%
    • Philadelphia—9.6%
  • Heavy rail systems including subways and elevated trains also saw increased ridership, with an average 3.3% rise in numbers nationally. Cities that had the highest increases include:
    • Cleveland—12.3%
    • Baltimore—8.7%
    • Boston—7.2%
    • Chicago—5%
  • Commuter rail numbers increased by 2.5 percent last year. In one slightly bizarre case, that of Austin, TX, the increase was an astonishing 169%. Demand there led to additional daytime and new weekend services. Other cities with double-digit increases in ridership included:
    • Nashville—33%
    • Portland—20%
    • Alexandria, VA—12.7%
    • Stockton, CA—10.3%

Large bus systems also saw an average 0.4 percent increase in ridership across the country, with places like Columbus, OH; St. Louis and Orlando faring especially well.

The trend looks set to continue

Reports from the first two months of 2012 show that this year’s figures are very likely to surpass anything ever recorded. Places like Albany, NY, have already shown a 13% increase in January compared to last year’s figures. Smaller cities and towns like Ames, IA, showed a 7.5 percent increase in January and a 9.8% increase in February on its CyRide service. Closer to home, Olympia, WA’s Intercity Transit service saw a 4% increase in ridership in January, and an 11.6% increase in February; this in spite of the fact that 2011 saw the highest ridership in Olympia in 31 years.

Many cities and towns are reporting month after month double-digit increases in ridership and record numbers are being set virtually every month across the country. As gas prices continue to soar, it’s clear that more and more people will opt to leave the car in the garage and take the bus or subway to work.

Public transport offers a number of benefits to any community. It cuts back on carbon emissions compared to single-passenger car journeys, and it also cuts back on traffic congestion for those people who choose or are forced to use their own vehicles. It’s important, however, to think of 10.4 billion trips in terms of the safety equipment, policies and procedures in place. Hundreds of people are hurt in Oregon every year while using public transport and it’s important that the public authorities who are so eager for us to use public transport are equally as enthusiastic about providing safe and secure passage.

If you’ve been injured when using public transport, the first thing you should do is get the medical help you need. After that, contact a Portland public transportation injury attorney. The consultation is free, and you can discuss your options and find out what kind of compensation you could expect to receive, should you decide to go ahead and pursue your case.