Officials with the Metro Transit Authority and the Regional Transit Authority announced Wednesday that April ridership on RTA train and bus routes increased 29 percent compared to April figures a year ago, while ridership on MTA bus routes increased 3 percent for the same periods.
Also during April, ridership on the Music City Star increased 31 percent compared to April 2010 numbers. The Star recorded a single-day record 1,455 passenger trips on June 10.
For the year, RTA ridership is up 16 percent versus 2010, while MTA ridership is up 7 percent. Ridership on the Music City Star has increased 25 percent year to date through April, compared to the same period last year.
“The rise in gas prices has allowed many people who previously were not riders of public transit to discover the huge savings and other personal benefits of using public transit,” Shelia Varga, president of the Music City Star Ridership Association, said in a release. “What we’re seeing now are many new riders who are becoming permanent riders.”
Area residents continue to turn increasingly to public transportation as their primary means of getting around, RTA officials said, and others are encouraged to do the same as National Dump the Pump Day approaches.
Dump the Pump Day, the annual nationwide event that encourages everyone to ride public transportation and save money by not driving, takes place June 16 and is sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In conjunction with the event, MTA and the RTA will be debuting two new television spots in the area aimed at generating even more regional ridership by emphasizing the money that can be saved by motorists who ride public transit.
“Certainly, we’ve seen a significant increase in ridership this year in response to high gas prices, but we are also seeing new riders enjoying their experience with public transportation and sticking with it,” RTA Chair and Gallatin Mayor Jo Ann Graves said. “Clearly, more people already are making the decision to ‘dump the pump,’ and we would like to encourage more people to give public transit a try on June 16.”