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Historically, transit bus ridership has been higher than transit rail ridership, but in recent years the two modes have had nearly the same ridership. Transit rail ridership grew 64% from 1990 to 2018, although this growth was not continuous during the period. Transit bus ridership saw an overall decline of 17% in that same time period. Total transit ridership in 2018 was 9.9 billion passenger trips.

Annual transit ridership for transit rail, transit bus, and other transit from 1990 to 2018.


  • Data for 2018 are preliminary.
  • Transit bus includes trolleybus.
  • Transit rail includes heavy rail, light rail, and commuter rail.
  • "Other transit" includes demand response, vanpool, automated guideway, cable car, inclined plane, ferry boat, and monorail.
  • The increase in "other transit" in 2007 was the result of a methodology change for demand response.

Sources: American Public Transportation Association, Ridership Report, Quarterly and Annual Totals by Mode, and Fourth Quarter 2018 Ridership, accessed May 22, 2019.

Fact #1088 Dataset

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