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America's Public Transit Ridership Hits Highest Level in Decades

2014-8-31
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

A record number of Americans are moving into cities. When they move into urban areas they drive less. New York city is one of the top cities for new people and for users of mass transit.

There are about 3.4 billion riders on New York City subways and buses every year. That is about one-third of all mass transit trips in the United States. New York's mass transit system operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The public transport system costs $1.5 billion a year to maintain. It is one of the world's oldest mass transit systems. The city's first subway line opened in 1904. Use of public transportation is the highest it has been in almost 60 years in almost every American city.


Riders on the New York City Subway.

Researchers say Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation in 2012. Gene Russianoff is the spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign. The group supports people who take public transportation. He says younger Americans are causing the rise in mass transit use.

"Millenials, those people born around the turn of the past century are much less car-oriented. They are urban. They like not owning cars, they like less responsibility and there are a lot of them," Russianoff said.

Many people, not just Millenials, believe public transit is less costly than car use and is good for the environment. New York City is planning several major expansions of its public transportation system. One project is a new $4.7 billion subway line. The first part of the project is set to be completed in 2016.

People who work in New York's financial area will soon be using a new subway center. Almost all of New York city's subways meet in the lower part of Manhattan. The new center will give riders an easier way to travel to the neighboring state of New Jersey. The most costly planned project is a $7 billion tunnel connection from Long Island into Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal.

Andrew Albert is a member of the board of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. He says there are many other reasons for the increase in the use of mass transit.

"The system has gotten a lot more dependable. We have new cars. We have countdown clocks to tell you when the next train is coming. We have expanded facilities in places," Albert said.

And that's the VOA Learning English Technology Report. For more technology stories, go to our website 51voa.com. I'm Jonathan Evans.