Subway use up 3 percent nationally, down 8 percent in Boston

Ridership numbers for the year 2007 were posted yesterday by the American Public Transportation Association, which noted that trips on public transit totalled 10.3 billion in the US, or 2.1 percent over the previous year’s tally. Total trips on Boston’s MBTA, however, decreased by 2.9 percent.

The use of light rail (trolleys and streetcars) increased by 6.1 percent nationally, though that figure was apparently inflated by the restoration of streetcar service in New Orleans. MBTA light-rail ridership was up by 1.0 percent (see data for individual cities here), but it was up by 26 percent in Philadelphia and 15 percent in the state of New Jersey.

Heavy rail (subway) ridership was up 3.1 percent nationally, led by a 13 percent jump in San Juan and a 10 percent increase in Atlanta. In Boston, subway use dropped by 7.8 percent (maybe that’s because of all the times subway lines were shut down and replaced by shuttle buses).

Commuter rail ridership was up 5.5 percent nationally and up 1.7 percent on the MBTA. Bus usage was up slightly on the national level by down a bit on the MBTA.

The Nashville area had the biggest increase in mass transit usage overall, thanks to a commuter rail system that saw 92,700 trips in 2006 and 226,000 trips last year. The biggest decline was in Syracuse, New York, where bus usage (there’s no other kind of mass transit there) dropped by 27 percent.