"The number of trips taken annually on public transit is now more than 10 billion and rising, compared with 7.8 billion trips in 1995," Eleanor Randolph writes in The New York Times. Transit ridership has been "outstripping population growth," says Randolph, an editorial writer for the paper. That amounts to a 31 percent increase.
Ridership dipped during the recession in 2009, but "is rising again as more baby boomer retirees take buses and high gas prices push more people to try the thriftier option," she points out.
In a column in The Times, Randolph says:
The problem is, financing for mass transit has not kept pace as cash-strapped state and local governments limit their support. The federal government, which provides only about 17 percent of financing for transit systems, should be doing a lot more, particularly since nearly 60 percent of rides are related to work, with commuters from every income level....
Although Congress has increased transit support in recent years, it is still too stingy to maintain stable services in many areas. ... Meanwhile, systems are relying more on fares or state and local money. Many have had to cut back services, increase fares, raise local taxes, lay off workers, borrow to meet operating costs and put off replacing old vehicles.
The article cites examples of trouble around the country, and argues that greater financial support for transit is justified, for many reasons.