Intercity Transit, the public transportation provider for Thurston County, reports its second highest total ridership of nearly 5.4 million boardings in 2013 (5,352,394). This is a 2 percent decrease from the agency’s all-time record set in 2012 when boardings peaked at nearly 5.5 million (5,462,227), but the 2013 numbers also show the highest ever ridership for vanpool (a 2.3 percent increase over 2012 with 217 vanpools in service making 761,750 total trips) and Dial-A-Lift (a 4.1 percent jump over 2012 with 156,573 total boardings).
Intercity Transit officials report its ridership rose 69 percent in the past decade (2004-2013). Transit officials indicate these increases reflect riders’ response to rising fuel prices, improved transit services, consumer sensitivity to household budgets, more commute trips as the economy improves and people return to work, fewer young people owning cars, and more seniors using transit.
In addition to Olympia/Thurston County, public transportation use has been strong around the nation. According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), people took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation last year, the highest annual ridership level in 57 years. The association reports 2013 as the eighth year in a row with more than 10 billion trips taken on public transportation nationwide. Also for eight years, the rate of increase in transit use surpassed rate of growth in total vehicle miles traveled on the nation’s roads. APTA also indicates that, since 1995, transit ridership is up 37.2 percent nationally, outpacing population growth (up 20.3 percent) and vehicle miles traveled (up 22.7 percent).
“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities,” said APTA
President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Access to public transportation matters,” he continued. “Community leaders know that public transportation investment drives community growth and economic revitalization.”
According to APTA there is an economic benefit for individuals as well as communities when transit is present. Transit users save an average of $900 a month by owning one less vehicle and using public transportation instead.
“We are pleased to provide valuable transportation services to the residents and commuters throughout the region,” states Ann Freeman-Manzanares, Intercity Transit General Manager. “Transit services provide a cost-effective and efficient way for people to get to jobs, school, and many other meaningful and necessary activities.”