Washington, D.C. – A new report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has found that public transit ridership is surging in the U.S. to modern record levels. In the second quarter of 2008, public transportation ridership increased by 5.2 per cent, as Americans took more than 2.8 billion trips.

Ridership is currently on track to beat the 50-year high of 10.3 billion trips, which was set last year. The report was released at the International Public Transportation Expo (EXPO) in San Diego, California, where public transportation professionals from around the world are convening.

“With gas prices at high levels, increasing numbers of people across the country are turning to public transportation, and what they are finding is that public transportation has been revolutionized by a wide array of technological advances,” said William Millar, APTA President. “Many of these innovations will be showcased at this year’s EXPO.”

APTA said that each year, public transportation saves 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline, more than three times the amount of oil imported from Kuwait, and reduces CO2 emissions by 37 million metric tonnes.

“With today’s growing concern about energy security, public transit is a critical piece of the solution,” Millar said. “Increased use of public transportation is the single most effective way to reduce America’s energy consumption. However, the continued surges in ridership reinforce the urgent need for increased investment from state, local and federal governments.”

In a recent survey, APTA found that 85 per cent of public transit systems responding reported they were at capacity, with crowded rail cars and buses. The survey also reveals that the most common limitation is budget, with 65 per cent reporting insufficient revenue to operate additional service. Consequently, more than 60 per cent said they are considering fare increases, and 35 per cent are considering service cuts, some for the second time in less than a year.

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