FTA finds more Americans riding public transportation

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) said Wednesday that more American’s are riding public transit now than last year.

According to the FTA, transit ridership is up more than 80 percent over early 2020 levels.

“That’s why FTA is facilitating a national conversation about ways transit agencies are attracting riders and growing new ridership,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “FTA’s America’s Open and Transit’s Open initiative is engaging our transit partners through listening sessions and a National Transit Renewal Summit to share best practices and work together to renew ridership across America.”

FTA provided several examples of resurging ridership. The agency said that Oklahoma City is seeing 81 percent of its riders on the EMBARK bus system compared with May 2019 levels. In Richmond, Va., the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) registered 80 percent of its May 2019 riders.

“EMBARK’s response over the last year is grounded in our values of safety and service,” said EMBARK Administrator Jason Ferbrache, adding that recent surveys revealed close to 80 percent of riders felt safe and were satisfied with their bus service. “Oklahoma City and EMBARK’s resilience is a reflection of our commitment to keep residents moving.”

And in Miami-Dade County, Fla., has reached 68 percent of its May 2019 ridership after adding 120 buses last year – a result of a re-evaluation of its ridership and system design.

“Public transportation agencies across the country cut service at the beginning of the safer-at-home order, and Miami-Dade Transit was no exception,” said Carlos Cruz-Casas, DTPW Assistant Director. “But unlike many agencies, soon after, we restored transit service to pre-pandemic levels on most routes – and even added service to go above what we provided before the pandemic.”

The agency credited the American Rescue Plan and other pandemic relief grants for providing critical funding to the transit agencies nationwide. Additionally, the agency said, many transit agencies have eliminated fares to improve safety for transit drivers and passengers, which those agencies credit for the boost in ridership.