I've written more than once on this blog that everywhere I go I hear from Americans who want more options for getting where they need to go.
Some people can't afford to own a reliable car. Some are unable to drive. Others choose not to drive--to avoid the pinch they feel at the pump, the frustration of roadway congestion, or the hassle of finding a parking space. Still others like being able to read the morning paper or do some work while riding.
Whatever the reason, more Americans are choosing to ride transit.
In fact, transit ridership for the month of February increased by 5.5% compared to February 2011. This is the first time since 2005 that transit ridership has increased by more than 5% from the prior year for two consecutive months. And the average increase during the past six months of 4.5% is the highest since 2008.
Given the rise in gas prices that occurred during March, we expect ridership increases to continue.
But fuel prices are only one of the factors that lead to increased ridership. Another factor is the availability of accessible transit choices. The folks in our Federal Transit Administration, led by Administrator Peter Rogoff, have been saying for years that if we build it, riders will come.
That has certainly been the case.
Charlotte is a perfect example of how adding options increases ridership. Adding streetcars and light rail to the Charlotte Area Transit Systems existing bus routes has not dampened bus ridership; it complements it by adding connections that make all of the available options more useful to riders.
As CATS has demonstrated, transit options come in all shapes and sizes, and they work together to create jobs, spur development, and provide better access to employment centers, schools, and essential services.
And this week FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff will be celebrating long-valued transit options like buses and commuter rail. He'll also be talking about a compelling new approach, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). As we'll see later in the week, BRT is not your grandfather's bus service.
These are truly exciting times for transit. And I'm proud of the work the FTA is doing to keep Americans moving.