PROVIDENCE – R.I. Public Transit Authority ridership totaled 19.7 million passengers in 2013, an increase of 1.25 percent over the 19.5 million passengers recorded in 2012, according to a report by the American Public Transportation Association.
During the fourth quarter alone, ridership improved 4.47 percent year over year. More than 5 million passengers rode aboard RIPTA buses from October through December, compared with 4.9 million during the same three months in 2012.
In addition to fixed RIPTA route data, the APTA report also provided passenger numbers for RIPTA’s Flex Service, which allows Rhode Islanders to reserve bus transportation 48 hours in advance. A total of 709,400 people made use of this service in 2013, little changed from the 709,100 passengers reported in 2012.
The APTA did not provide average weekday ridership information for RIPTA.
Across the border in the Bay State, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s commuter rail ridership fell 4.1 percent, dropping to 34.9 million passengers last year compared with 36.4 million in 2012. An average 124,400 people ride the commuter rail system every weekday.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, a total of 8.8 million passengers traveled via MBTA trains that run throughout the Greater Boston area, including the Providence/Stoughton line with stops in Providence, and at T.F. Green Airport and Wickford Junction. That figure represented a 1 percent decline from the 8.9 million commuter rail passengers recorded during the same three-month period in 2012.
Nationwide, total U.S. public transit passengers in 2013 – including bus, railway, subway, commuter rail and other forms of transportation – numbered 10.7 billion, a gain of 1.1 percent compared with the 2012 figure of 10.5 billion. The 2013 figure represents the highest annual public transit ridership in the U.S. since 1956, the APTA said.
“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities. People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy in a statement. “Access to public transportation matters.”
The APTA is a national nonprofit organization that acts as an advocacy group for public transportation in Washington, D.C.