American transit use increases

The proportion of Americans using transit to get to work increased from 2004 to 2008

, the first time that’s happened in 40 years, says Robert Puentes of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings Institution. Part of the increase is due to “big gains in metropolitan areas with large transit systems and extensive rail networks such as New York and Washington,” Puentes said.

“But increases were also seen in metros that opened new transit lines and expanded transit service in the last eight years,” Puentes emphasizes. “Charlotte [North Carolina] opened a light rail line in November 2007, placing it as the metro with the highest increase of commuters by streetcar, subway or light rail in 2008. Colorado Springs opened an intercity commuter bus line in 2004, making the top 10 metro rankings in both increase of commuter transit ridership and transit rate.”

The findings are included in the “The State of Metropolitan America,” a comprehensive new report from Brookings.