Transit group: Ridership topped 10 billion in 2012

APTA President Michael Melanpihy said the figures showed vitality of public transportation across the country.

"Every mode of public transportation showed an increase in ridership," Melanpihy said in a statement. "Public transit ridership grew in all areas of the country – north, south, east, and west -- in small, medium and large communities, with at least 16 public transit systems reporting record ridership.”

Public transit advocates quickly used the numbers Monday to argue that Congress should boost funding for public transportation systems.

"Will the record increase in public transit ridership finally convince Congress our nation must meet this growing demand," Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Larry Hanley said in a statement Monday.

“Despite continuing ridership growth, commuters all over the country are paying higher fares and waiting longer for crowded buses and trains, if they come at all," Hanley continued. "From Detroit, MI, to Tacoma, WA, to Long Island, NY, 80 percent of transit systems have had to cut service or increase fares since 2008."

Hanley said the APTA report was the "latest of many showing the same thing: ridership is surging, and communities that provide more mass transit also experience a growing economy."

Melaniphy attributed the increase in public transit ridership to volatility in gas prices and increases in employment in densely-populated areas of the country.

“Public transportation saves people money, and people save even more so when gas prices spike," he said. "Also, since nearly 60 percent of trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, it makes sense that ridership increases in areas where the economy has improved and new jobs have been added.” 

The full APTA report can be read here.