Last year, U.S. saw highest public-transit ridership since 1957

Hooray for sky-high gas prices! Thanks to the manipulative maneuverings of Big Oil, public transit ridership in the U.S. is on the rise too. A report from the American Public Transportation Association says miffed tank-fillers and others took 10 billion mass-transit trips last year — 2.9 percent more than in 2005, 28 percent more than in 1996, and the most since 1957. Cities including Philadelphia, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Tulsa have seen a spike in riders, and are adding buses and trains to meet growing demand. Besides outlandish fuel costs, say APTA head Bill Millar and fellow transportation officials, factors leading to the new high include a growing elderly population; an immigrant population that often can’t afford cars; improved transit services; and an influx of “transit-oriented young people” in urban areas. “People are rediscovering the convenience of public transportation,” says Millar. “For 50 years, we were told the most convenient thing to do is drive our cars.”