Transit Carries 66.6% of 2019 Riders in September


September 2022 was a booming month for the American transit industry, which carried 66.6 percent as many riders as in September 2019, according to data released yesterday by the Federal Transit Administration. This is the highest ridership recorded, as percentage of pre-pandemic levels, since the pandemic began.

Amtrak finally posted its August performance report along with the September report yesterday as well, revealing that its ridership climbed to almost 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels in August before falling to just over 80 percent in September. Air travel reached 94 percent and, as usual, driving data won’t be posted for a week or so.

As usual, bus transit did far better than rail transit, reaching almost 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels while rail was less than 64 percent. Transit carried more than 75 percent of pre-pandemic numbers in the Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Diego, Tampa, Las Vegas, and Cincinnati urban areas. It carried less than 60 percent in Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, Boston, Phoenix, and San Francisco-Oakland.

I’ve posted an enhanced spreadsheet with ridership totals by year, transit agency, mode, and urban area. Unfortunately, the spreadsheet posted by the Federal Transit Administration has an error which leaves the vehicle-revenue miles worksheet blank, so I wasn’t able to enhance that page. I’ll post an update when that error is corrected.

Update: I don’t know whether it was on FTA’s end or my end, but the problem has been fixed and the “enhanced spreadsheet” is now enhanced on both the ridership (UPT) and vehicle-revenue miles (VRM) worksheet.

This piece first appeared at The Antiplanner.

Randal O'Toole, the Antiplanner, is a policy analyst with nearly 50 years of experience reviewing transportation and land-use plans and the author of The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future.

Photo: Pi.1415926535 via Wikimedia, under CC 3.0 License

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