There are several head scratchers in this one:
More Americans used buses, trains and subways in 2013 than in any year since 1956 as service improved, local economies grew and travelers increasingly sought alternatives to the automobile for trips within metropolitan areas, the American Public Transportation Association said in a report released on Monday.
The trade group said in its annual report that 10.65 billion passenger trips were taken on transit systems during the year, surpassing the post-1950s peak of 10.59 million in 2008, when gas prices rose to $4 to $5 a gallon.
The ridership in 2013, when gas prices were lower than in 2008, undermines the conventional wisdom that transit use rises when those prices exceed a certain threshold, and suggests that other forces are bolstering enthusiasm for public transportation, said Michael Melaniphy, the president of the association. ...
From 1995 to 2013, transit ridership rose 37 percent, well ahead of a 20 percent growth in population and a 23 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled, according to the association’s data.
Stronger economic growth is playing an important role in the increased use of public transit, as more people are using the systems to get to an increasing number of jobs, the association reported, and transit agencies are nurturing growth by expanding their systems or improving services.
“We’re seeing that where cities have invested in transit, their unemployment rates have dropped, and employment is going up because people can get there,” Mr. Melaniphy said.
Where to begin? How about the easiest one first? Public transportation rides per capita have fallen from 63 to 34 since 1956 (plugging in the 2008 number for 1956 ... since 2008 was the previous "post-1950s peak"):
|Rides per capita||33.69||62.70|
That doesn't seem like something for the APTA to celebrate.
Second, gas prices have risen from 1995 to 2013 so they might play a factor in increased public transportation rides.
Third, the assertion that stronger economic growth is fueling additional rides might need additional analysis. If I were a reviewer I'd ask for a model that estimates the determinants of rides, with demand and supply factors included.
Finally, the assertion that public transportation reduces the unemployment rate requires a dose of causality. My first inclination would be that more people commuting to jobs would increase ridership, not vice versa.
Here is the only report provided ... 31 pages of numbers.