WASHINGTON, D.C. – Americans took more than 2.5 billion passenger trips on public transportation in the second quarter of 2019, according to the quarterly Transit Ridership Report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), representing 11 million trips more than during the same period last year.
These second-quarter results show an increase of nearly 0.5% across all modes compared to the second quarter of 2018, APTAA said in a news release summarizing the report. This includes a rise of 1.44% for heavy rail, 3.54% for commuter rail systems, 0.5% in bus systems in population areas exceeding 2 million people, and 1.51% in systems in communities of less than 100,000 residents, APTA said.
Among commuter rail carriers that saw notable increases, the New York MTA’s Long Island Rail Road saw an increase of 10.6%. SMART TD represents employees of the carrier.
The full second-quarter APTA Transit Ridership Report is available here as a PDF.

NJ TransitWASHINGTON – A new national survey reveals that more than 7 in 10 Americans support increased federal funding for the nation’s public transportation systems, including those that serve small cities, towns, and large urban areas. The survey was conducted by ORC International for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and it shows support for increased funding for public transit is consistent across communities of all sizes.

Support for increased public transportation funding was also seen across age groups and political affiliations, with some of the highest numbers among Millennials ages 18 – 34 (77 percent) and individuals age 65 and older (76 percent).

“No matter where you live and work – and what age you are, public transit provides vital access to jobs and everything a community has to offer,” said APTA President and CEO Michael P. Melaniphy. “As Congress finalizes its work on the surface transportation bill, we must ensure we provide for both large and smaller communities through growth of the federal transit program.”

Owning or having access to a private vehicle does not diminish public transit support across the nation, with 71 percent of car owners reporting that they want to see more federal investment in public transportation in both large and small communities. In addition, a majority (56 percent) of respondents said public transit is important in attracting and retaining employers in their community.

When asked about the types of public transit survey respondents are familiar with in their community, they noted scheduled bus (57 percent), van/buses for persons with disabilities (51 percent), passenger train (40 percent), inter-state bus (37 percent), commuter vanpools (27 percent), trolleys (20 percent) and ferries (19 percent).

The national online study was conducted for APTA by ORC International in the summer of 2015 among a sample of 1,019 individuals age 18 or older. The results have a 95 percent confidence level.

For more details on the survey results, visit www.apta.com.

high_speed_rail_1Washington – If you build high-speed rail in America, they will come. According to a 2015 survey released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), if high-speed rail were available today, two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans are likely to use high-speed trains and this jumps to nearly seventy (67) percent when respondents were informed of the costs and time saving benefits of high-speed rail service.

“People want high-speed rail in America and we are seeing support among various ages and in different regions of the country regardless of political party,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “In addition, the millennial generation and younger adults will lead the way with their preferences to have a multi-modal transportation system that supports their lifestyle. It is critical that we include implementation of high-speed rail as we look to plan for the nation’s future transportation needs.”

In the survey “High-Speed Rail in America 2015,” conducted by TechnoMetrica for APTA, the likelihood of respondents using high-speed rail for their work and leisure travel increases as they were informed that it will be less expensive than flying and that it will take less time than driving to their destination. When told of these cost and time saving benefits, Millennials and young people (18-44) strong likelihood of use at 71 percent jumps to 76 percent. Those respondents who identify as Republican represent the largest growth of intended use, their likelihood of using high-speed rail increases from 58 to 65 percent, followed by Independents, 61 to 67 percent, and Democrats’ already strong likelihood of use goes from 73 to 75 percent when informed of the savings of time and costs.

“A high-speed rail network will have a tremendous benefit to our entire transportation system,” said Melaniphy. “It will enable America’s air, rail, bus, ferry and highway systems to each function effectively and efficiently as we face a dramatic population growth that adds more travelers than our current capacity can accommodate.”

The survey also revealed that Americans overwhelmingly support efforts to streamline government regulations that will promote real-estate development near high-speed rail. This development could include amenities such as popular retail shops, walkable neighborhoods, and unique dining experiences. Overall, nearly three quarters of respondents (71 percent) support reducing regulations so that amenities can be built near high-speed rail stations.

“High-speed rail not only provides a great transportation option, but the public’s interest in amenities near high-speed rail stations is another way to create economic growth and jobs in local communities across the country,” said Melaniphy. “If we have strong investment in high-speed rail, it will be an opportunity to generate real-estate and land use income for the private sector as well as local tax revenue for communities for decades to come.”

High-Speed Rail in America 2015? survey was conducted by Techno Metrica for APTA. The survey includes 1,005 interviews using random digit dial sample of both landline and cell phone numbers. At the 95 percent confidence level, the margin of error for the respondents’ overall sample is +/-3.2 percentage points.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.  More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.



Washington, D.C. – Sarah Feinberg, acting director of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), addressed the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure concerning the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) June 24, 2015. Her speech follows.

“PTC technology is arguably the single-most important railroad safety development in more than a century. The technology is not new though – elements of PTC have existed since the early 20th century. In fact, regulators and safety advocates have been calling on the rail industry to implement some form of PTC for many decades.

“The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 required the current functionality of Positive Train Control to be fully implemented by December 31, 2015. PTC is required on Class I railroad main lines where any poisonous or toxic by inhalation hazardous materials are transported. It is also required on any railroad’s main line where regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger service is conducted.

“Following passage of the PTC mandate in 2008, railroads submitted their PTC Implementation Plans in 2010 – these plans laid out a path forward that would allow each railroad to meet the deadline.

“As I have stated to this committee before: safety is the Federal Railroad Administration’s top priority. The rail system is not as safe as it could be without the full implementation of PTC. A safe rail system requires the full implementation of Positive Train Control. And that’s why FRA will enforce the Dec. 31, 2015 deadline for implementation, just as Congress mandated.

“For several years, FRA has been sounding the alarm that most railroads have not made sufficient progress in implementing PTC.

“In the seven years since passage of the PTC mandate, FRA has dedicated significant resources and worked closely with the railroad industry in order to assist and guide implementation. The FRA has:

  • Hired staff to assist and oversee the implementation of PTC;
  • Worked directly with the Federal Communications Commission to resolve spectrum issues and improve the approval process related to PTC communication towers;
  • Built a PTC system test bed at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colo.;
  • Provided approximately $650 million in grant funds to support PTC implementation. This includes American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants as well as Amtrak grants and other annual appropriations;
  • Requested $825 million to assist commuter railroads for the last two years;
  • Issued a $967-million loan through the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the nation’s largest commuter railroad.

“I have also established a new PTC Task Force Team within FRA – that team is aggressively managing and monitoring each individual railroads’ progress, tracking data, ensuring we have the most accurate and up-to-date information and reporting in to me multiple times per week. This team is working in close collaboration with the many individuals at FRA, based here in Washington and in offices around the country, already working on this challenge.

“But, unfortunately, despite FRA’s financial support, technical assistance and warnings to Congress, many railroads have stated publicly that they will still not meet the Dec. 31, 2015, deadline.

“Recently, FRA received updated information about PTC implementation from 32 of the 38 railroads that we are currently tracking for enforcement purposes. Initial analysis indicates that Class I railroads have:

  • Completed or partially completed installations of approximately 50 percent of the locomotives that require PTC equipment;
  • Deployed approximately 50 percent of wayside units;
  • Replaced approximately 50 percent of signals that need replacement; and
  • Completed most of the required mapping for PTC tracks.

“By the end of 2015, AAR projects that:

  • 39 percent of locomotives will be fully equipped;
  • 76 percent of wayside interface units will be installed;
  • 67 percent of base station radios will be installed; and
  • 34 percent of required employees will be trained.

“According to APTA, 29 percent of commuter railroads are targeting to complete installation of PTC equipment by the end of 2015. Full implementation of PTC for all commuter lines is projected by 2020.

“FRA continues our work to finalize an enforcement strategy for those railroads that will miss the deadline. As with any regulatory enforcement posture, our ultimate goal is to bring all railroads into compliance as quickly and as safely as possible.

“Starting on January 1, 2016, FRA will impose penalties on railroads that have not fully implemented PTC. Fines will be based on FRA’s PTC penalty guidelines, which establish different penalties depending on the violation. There are many potential violations, such as:

  • $15,000 to $25,000 fine for failure to equip locomotives

“The penalties may be assessed per violation, per day and may be raised or lowered depending on mitigating or aggravating factors.

“The total amount of penalty each railroad faces will depend upon the amount of implementation progress the railroad has made.

“FRA will also use additional, appropriate enforcement tools to ensure railroads implement PTC on the fastest schedule possible – be it emergency orders, compliance orders, compliance agreements, additional civil penalties or any other tools at our disposal.

“FRA is also planning for what will come after the Jan. 1 deadline. In both 2014 and 2015, the Department and FRA asked Congress to provide FRA with additional authorities that would address the safety gap that will exist on many railroads between Jan. 1, 2016 and each railroad’s full PTC implementation.

“These additional authorities would provide FRA with the ability to review, approve and require interim safety measures for individual railroads that may fail to meet the PTC deadline. These interim safety requirements would be to ensure railroads are forced to raise the bar on safety if they miss the PTC deadline – but will not and cannot be used to replace or extend the deadline.

“In conclusion, I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to this Committee for its attention and focus on achieving full PTC implementation as efficiently and quickly as possible. We look forward to working with this Committee to improve our programs and make the American rail network safer, more reliable and more efficient.”

More than 2.7 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the third quarter of 2014, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This is a 1.8 percent increase over the same quarter last year, representing an increase of more than 48 million trips and the highest third quarter ridership since 1974 (the oldest third quarter APTA has available for comparison).

Some public transit systems that reported record third quarter ridership for their entire system or for a specific line are located in the following cities: Albany, N.Y.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Birmingham, Ala.; Denver; Minneapolis; New York City (Metro North); Oakland, Calif.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Peoria, Ill.; Seattle; and Wenatchee, Wash.

Noting that ridership on U.S. public transportation has increased in 12 of the last 15 quarters, APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said, “There are a number of reasons why public transportation ridership is on the rise. First, the investment in public transportation by the federal government has paid off with new rail and bus rapid transit lines or extensions that have opened up in recent years. These new services have not only created greater access for people to use public transit, but have led to economic development that has transformed and revitalized the community. Public transportation is not just moving people, but also positively shaping the communities we live in.

“A second reason for increased ridership is that people are affirmatively responding to the quality of public transportation that is now available,” said Melaniphy. “For example, some public transit systems have increased their frequency of service and have modernized their vehicle fleets. Additionally, with the use of apps and real time information at stations, riders can easily find out when the next bus or train will arrive. Technology has made riding public transportation more convenient and easier to use.

“Additionally, the economy is recovering and since nearly 60 percent of public transit trips are taken to travel for work commutes, public transportation ridership has increased in cities where the economy has improved,” said Melaniphy.

The following cities are some examples of areas with higher employment and public transit ridership for the third quarter: Atlanta; Boston; Champaign-Urbana, Ill.; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Minneapolis; Portland, Ore; Salt Lake City; San Francisco, and Seattle.

“High and volatile gas prices have played a part over the past nine years in convincing people to try public transportation,” said Melaniphy. “Now that gas prices are declining, many people are still choosing to ride public transportation. They have discovered that there are other benefits to taking public transit besides saving money.”

More than 2.7 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the second quarter of 2014, according to a report released Sept. 29 by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This is a 1.1 percent increase over the same quarter last year, representing an increase of 30 million more trips. Public transportation ridership outpaced urban vehicle miles traveled (VMT) which grew at 0.97 percent for this quarter.

Noting that in five of the last eight quarters, ridership on U.S. public transportation has increased, APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy said, “Public transportation ridership continues to grow nationally, showing that federal investment in public transit is paying off. With greater travel options, peoples’ lives improve and communities grow.”

Pointing to public transit systems in Austin, Texas; Denver, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Seattle, Melaniphy said, “Some public transit systems saw significant ridership, even record ridership increases on lines and extensions that have opened in the past five years. This shows that if you expand public transportation options with new services, additional people will decide to use public transportation.”

MetroRail, the commuter rail line for Austin, Texas, reached record ridership for the second quarter. Its ridership has quadrupled since it was launched in 2010. With the new light rail system that opened in April 2013 in Denver light rail ridership reached record numbers with an increase of 8.1 percent in the second quarter. Seattle’s five year old light rail line saw another record quarter with a quarterly ridership increase of 17 percent, marking 20 consecutive quarters of double digit growth.

Ridership reached record numbers in several systems across the country. For example, Capital District Transportation Authority (Albany, N.Y.), Spokane Transit (Spokane, Wash.) and Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (Canton, Ohio), saw quarterly record ridership numbers, as did San Mateo County’s commuter rail line Caltrain (San Carlos, Calif.). The Long Island Rail Road saw the highest ridership for the month of June since June 2008 when gas prices were very high.

Ridership increases were due to a number of factors including high gas prices and recovering local economies. Nationally, the average cost of a gallon of gas in the second quarter was $3.75.

2014 Second Quarter Ridership Breakdown:

Nationally, heavy rail ridership increased by 3.2 percent. Cities with heavy rail systems showing the highest percentage of increases were located in the following cities: Boston (7.0 percent); Chicago (5.5 percent); New York, NY-MTA New York City Transit (3.9 percent); New York, NY-MTA Staten Island Railway (2.9 percent); Cleveland, Ohio (2.8 percent); and San Francisco (2.0 percent).

Overall, light rail ridership increased by 2.8 percent in the second quarter of 2014. Light rail in Oceanside, Calif., saw a triple digit increase of 160 percent since the system was shut down from March-May 2013. Light rail systems in the following cities saw double digit increases in the second quarter: San Diego (28.8 percent) Minneapolis (16.5 percent); Seattle (14.4 percent); and Houston (13 percent). Other light rail systems showing significant percentage of increases were located in the following cities: Denver (8.1%); Charlotte, N.C. (7.1 percent); Salt Lake City (6.8 percent); Newark, N.J. (5.2 percent); and Hampton, Va. (4.4 percent).

Ridership on commuter rail systems increased by 3.1 percent in the second quarter. The following cities saw double digit increases in the second quarter of 2014: Salt Lake City (18.6 percent); Stockton, Calif. (17.0 percent); Lewisville, Texas (15.5 percent); Dallas-Ft. Worth (13.4 percent); Portland, Ore. (12.2 percent); and San Carlos, Calif. (10.0 percent). The following cities also experienced a ridership increase on light rail in the second quarter: Seattle (7.4 percent); Anchorage (6.9 percent); Boston (6.0 percent); Oceanside, Calif. (5.7 percent); Newark, N.J. (5.6 percent); and Austin, Texas (3.3 percent).

Bus ridership decreased nationally by 1.2 percent, although in cities with populations of less than two million, bus ridership increased.

Demand response (paratransit) increased in the second quarter of 2014 by 2.2 percent. Trolleybus ridership decreased by 3.8 percent.

To see the complete APTA ridership report go to: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/Ridership/2014-q2-ridership-APTA.pdf.

WASHINGTON – As Congress gets into full swing after the August recess, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released a survey Sept. 15 that shows the numbers of Americans that support increasing federal public transportation investment grew to nearly 68 percent. This represents a nearly two point increase over last year. The survey, which was conducted by the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) for APTA, also found that nearly 74 percent of Americans support the use of tax dollars for creating, expanding, and improving public transportation options in their communities.

“We believe Congress should move swiftly on a robust long-term funding plan for the next surface transportation bill, and not wait until the extension deadline of May 31,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Americans understand the importance of investing in public transportation because it is a catalyst to transforming their community.”

Seventy six percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that public transportation investment can help create jobs and pave the way to a stronger economy. When asked about the affordable transportation options for people, nearly 88 percent of respondents agreed that public transit expands opportunities and provides access to new jobs and careers as well as to medical care, schools, and colleges.

“Research data shows support for increased revenues for public transportation. This support continues to increase because Americans realize that everyone benefits from public transit investments through the economic growth in their community, even if they do not ride it,” said Melaniphy.

The survey by MTI was a result of 1,503 telephone interviews with individuals across the United States and the margin of error is minus 2.53 percentage points, at the 95 percent confidence level.


WASHINGTON – A former official with three bus operators employing UTU members has been elected president and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which represents bus and transit operators before Congress and regulatory agencies. The appointment is effective Nov. 1.

Michael P. Melaniphy most recently was vice president of bus manufacturer Motor Coach Industries in Schaumburg, Ill.

From 1989 to 1990, Melaniphy was an executive with First Group, whose subsidiaries include First Student, a school-bus operator employing UTU members at numerous locations. From 1990 to 1991, he was assistant general manager of El Metro in Laredo, Texas (a former UTU property), and from 1998 to 2001, he was general manager of UTU-represented Transit Management in Charlotte, N.C.

While in college at Indiana University, Melaniphy drove for the campus bus system and was team driver for the Bobby Knight-coached basketball team.

Melaniphy, who has been a member of the APTA board of directors, succeeds William Millar, who is retiring following 15 years as APTA president.

WASHINGTON — Two commuter railroads — Los Angeles Metrolink and Chicago Metra – get it. They recognize that commuters aren’t hogs and logs on freight trains, and passenger and crew safety is paramount.

Unfortunately, 24 other commuter railroads don’t get it.

Under the umbrella of the American Public Transit Association (APTA), those other commuter railroads are pleading with Congress to delay for three years implementation of the life- and limb-saving technology offered by positive train control (PTC).

Instead, those other 24 commuter railroads are looking to spend the money on gussied up passenger stations, platforms and even new office buildings for executives.

Indeed, at a hearing of the House Rail Subcommittee March 17, APTA, in emphasizing everything except passenger and train-crew safety, asked that the deadline for implementation of PTC on commuter rail routes be delayed for three years — from Dec. 31, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2018.

By contrast, Los Angeles Metrolink and Chicago Metra are putting the highest priority on passenger and crew safety by moving forward to meet the 2015 deadline — established by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 — for installation of PTC.

Los Angeles Metrolink and Chicago Metra are the only two commuter railroads opposing the three-year delay sought by the other 24 in the PTC implementation date.

At Los Angeles Metrolink — a 512-mile system that is the second largest commuter railroad in size and fifth largest in ridership — the recently installed CEO, John Fenton, has made a commitment to put passenger safety first.

Metrolink has taken the lead in selecting vendors, setting equipment standards and implementing new training programs in preparation for meeting the 2015 PTC mandate.

“We are fully dedicated to meet or beat the PTC implementation deadline of 2015,” Fenton said in testimony submitted to the subcommittee. “We don’t think there is any time to waste given the unforgiving nature of the environment within which we operate.”

Fenton and Metrolink employees know this first hand.

Each wears a green wrist band with the words, “Never Again,” reminding them of the horrific accident in Chatsworth, Calif., Sept. 12, 2008, between a Union Pacific freight train and a Metrolink commuter train that killed 25 and injured 135. “We still walk in the shadow of that pain in mourning for all those touched by the tragedy,” Fenton said.

“A firm sense of resolve is clear,” he said. “PTC can be the technological edge that helps Metrolink achieve the safest operations possible when combined with a culture of positive safety, management leadership by example, sound operating rules and practices, a collaborate approach to stakeholder involvement and our crash-energy-management car fleet.”

While the other 24 commuter railroads complain of the cost of PTC and assert there is “no off-the-shelf technology” readily available, Los Angeles Metrolink has been at work to make PTC happen and to meet the 2015 installation deadline.

Within two months of passage of the 2008 congressional mandate for PTC installation, Metrolink assembled a PTC development team, which defined the scope, schedule and budget to create a glide path for PTC implementation by 2015. A vendor contract was awarded in October 2010.

If Los Angeles Metrolink and Chicago Metra have any complaints, it is with the other 24 commuter railroads fighting the 2015 installation mandate. By so doing, say safety experts, those 24 are reducing incentives for vendor research and development, limiting competition among vendors, and thereby further driving up the costs of implementation of which they already complain.

“We believe that PTC is perhaps the most important safety innovation in our lifetime,” Fenton said. “Our families, co-workers, friends and neighbors ride our trains every day. Their safety is our responsibility. It is our core value. PTC is too important in our mission of zero safety incidents.”

Also providing testimony was rail labor, supporting maintenance of the 2015 implementation date for PTC — for commuter railroads as well as freight railroads.

Emphasizing that many deaths — passenger and crew — could have been saved and will be saved by PTC, the rail labor organizations told the subcommittee, “There is no such thing as federal regulatory overreach when it comes to returning our members safely to their families.”

Said UTU National Legislative Director James Stem: “Implementation of PTC is a small price to pay for saving lives and limbs. PTC, long advocated by the National Transportation Safety Board, will become an integral part of the safety overlay protecting passengers, the public and train crews.”

PTC is collision avoidance technology that monitors and controls train movements remotely. It can prevent train-to-train collisions, prevent unauthorized train movement into a work zone, halt movement of a train through a switch left in the wrong position, and stop trains exceeding authorized speeds.

To view an animated depiction of how PTC works as a safety overlay system to improve railroad safety, click here.