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MBTA ridership growth contributes to nationwide surge

The MBTA saw one of the highest growth rates in ridership in the first quarter of the year among America’s public transit systems, contributing to an overall 5 percent surge nationally, the American Public Transportation Association announced today.

The MBTA’s rates of growth for light rail (12.6 percent), heavy rail (6.4 percent), and bus ridership (10.6 percent) placed it among the top 5 systems nationally in each of those categories, the association said.

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In the first three months of the year, Americans took a total of almost 2.7 billion trips on public transportation, according to the association. That was 125.7 million more than in the first quarter of 2011, a 5 percent increase. Nationwide, all modes of transportation saw increases in ridership.

“There are a number of reasons why more Americans are using public transportation,” APTA President Michael Melaniphy said in a statement. “For example, public transportation systems are delivering better, reliable service and the use of real time technology, which many systems use, makes it easy for riders to know when the next bus or train will arrive.”

The MBTA is the country’s fifth busiest transit system, behind New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington D.C., according to the T. The Green Line is the nation’s busiest light rail system.

Last week, the MBTA announced that ridership increased 4.4 percent in April. It was the 15th consecutive month in which the T had seen gains in ridership.

Acting MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis said last week MBTA bus ridership has been boosted by the availability of real-time arrival information for MBTA buses, which customers can access on smartphone apps and websites.

“We’re absolutely convinced that the widespread availability of real time bus data is making public transit a more convenient option for commuters,” he said in a statement. “More than a hundred thousand smart phone users have downloaded apps that provide arrival time information for more than 180 MBTA bus routes.”

Colin A. Young can be reached at colin.young@globe.com.
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