Ohio’s 4 biggest cities see bus ridership increase

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CINCINNATI (AP) - Bus ridership in Ohio’s four largest cities increased last year, with Cincinnati leading the way, mirroring national statistics that show people are using public transportation more than any time since the 1950s.

New ridership data released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association shows that nationwide, Americans took nearly 10.7 billion trips on public buses, trains and subways in 2013.

In Cincinnati, bus ridership jumped by 3.5 percent last year, to more than 16.9 million rides. That increase is more than triple the 1 percent nationwide increase in overall ridership on public transportation, which includes subways and light rails.

Cleveland also eclipsed the national increase, experiencing a 1.5 percent jump in bus rides last year to more than 39.6 million. Cleveland’s light rail line also saw a 1.5 percent increase in rides, to 2.9 million in 2013.

Toledo’s bus ridership rose by 1 percent to 3.4 million rides, while Columbus saw the smallest increase at just 0.3 percent to 18.7 million rides.

As for the only other two Ohio cities included in the data, Canton saw a 1 percent increase in bus rides, while Akron posted the only decrease for the state, a 0.9 percent drop.

Art Guzzetti, vice president for policy at the American Public Transportation Association, said that Ohio’s numbers reflect an ongoing national trend of transit use growing at double the rate of population growth.

He attributed the increases to more young people moving to urban cores and a shift in attitude about public transportation.

“The love affair with the car is not the same,” Guzzetti said. “Earlier generations, it was all about the car. Now it’s the menu of options. It’s not that millennials particularly love public transit, but they’ll take the best deal.”

Megan Duthie, 23, who was waiting for a bus in downtown Cincinnati on Monday, said she began relying on public transportation in the fall when she started going to the University of Cincinnati.

On top of the gas for 20 miles of driving from her home in suburban Milford, Duthie said she would have been paying $10 a day for parking.

Now, she pays just $1 per bus ride.

“I’m probably saving about $45 a week,” said Duthie, a sociology junior. “Gas prices are getting a little ridiculous, and with the economy, everybody wants to save some money.”

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Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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