Transit-Use Growing

RECEIVED Wed., Oct. 27, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Nationally, transit ridership grew 21% over the last five years, while the number of miles driven grew by 12%. This was the first time since World War II that growth in transit ridership substantially outpaced growth in driving.
   California, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas experienced more than a 20% increase in transit ridership.
   Transit appeared in cities that have traditionally not had much transit service. New rail systems opened in San Diego, San Jose, Sacramento, Portland, Salt Lake City, Denver, St. Louis, and Dallas. Forty-seven of the nation's top 50 metropolitan areas are pursuing rail investments, many in new transit markets, and when they open most are exceeding ridership projections.
   The demand for new transit-starts projects is much greater than the funding available. As of 2003, 25 New Start projects had full funding grantee agreements, including projects in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Portland, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan, and Washington, D.C. These commitments will add 131 new stations to the existing inventory of about 2,400 transit and inter-city rail stations and a wide variety of intercity bus locations.
   The public is more aware of and supportive of public transportation than a decade ago.
   Four in five Americans believe that increased investment in public transportation strengthens the economy, creates jobs, reduces traffic congestion and air pollution, and saves energy.
   Almost three-quarters (72%) support the use of public funds for the expansion and improvement of public transportation.
   Are all of these people around the country delusional and only the opponents in Austin see the light?
Glenn Gadbois
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