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In a sign that the job market is improving, more Americans rode subways, buses and trains in 2011. The $4 gallon gas prices could lead to even higher transit ridership this year.
Americans took one billion more transit rides in 2011 than they did in 2000, the New York Times reported. And the 2011 figures mark a 200 million ridership increase since 2010. The increase could be a sign that the job market is improving. According to the Times, 60 percent of transit rides are taken by people on on their way to or home from work.
The American Public Transportation Association, a group that represents public transportation agencies, released a report today that found that public transportation usage was reaching record highs. Overall, 10.4 billion trips were taken on United States subways, trains and buses in 2011. Last year had the second highest annual public transit ridership since 1957, the report found.
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“Two top reasons for the increased ridership are higher gas prices and in certain areas, a recovering economy with more people returning to work," APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said in a statement.
The news comes after House Republicans considered a transportation bill earlier this year that would have slashed public transportation funding. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Politico that the failed bill was the worst transportation bill he'd ever seen.
Increasing gas prices mean that transit ridership will likely keep growing. The nationwide average gas prices are now just above $3.80, CNN reported.
Technological advances have also made public transit more appealing. There are over 100 mobile phone applications just in New York City that track bus and train schedules, CNN said.