The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reports that 2007 transit ridership reached “10.3 billion trips . . . the highest level in 50 years, representing a 2.1% increase over the previous year.” APTA’s press release quotes its president, William Millar, saying, “Now with gas prices predicted to rise to $4 a gallon, there is a greater urgency for higher federal funding to expand U.S. public transportation systems so Americans have an affordable transportation choice.”
The Antiplanner is willing to admit that 2.1 percent is not miniscule. But let’s put APTA’s numbers into context. I’ll try not to repeat the points I made in response to APTA’s press release about 2006 transit ridership, most if not all of which are still valid.
APTA admits that high gas prices, not federal investments into transit infrastructure, are playing a large role in boosting ridership. The federal government has invested billions of dollars in transit every year since before 1990, yet transit ridership actually dropped every year from 1990 through 1995 (when gas prices were low), so more federal investments are not going to make much difference.