Public transportation in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Mass transportation systems in the United States include buses, trolleybuses (or "trackless trolleys"), trolleys (or "streetcars"), ferries, and a variety of trains, including rapid transit (known as metros, subways, undergrounds, etc.), light rail, and commuter rail. Intercity public transport is dominated by airlines and intercity rail.

Public transportation in the United States is of poorer quality and generally more expensive than comparable systems worldwide.[1]


Some North American cities arranged by size along the horizontal axis and public transportation use on the vertical axis. U.S. cities have lower public transit use than similarly sized Canadian and Mexican cities.

The number of miles traveled by vehicles in the United States fell by 3.6% in 2008, while the number of trips taken on mass transit increased by 4.0%. At least part of the drop in urban driving can be explained by the 4% increase in the use of public transportation [2]

About one in every three users of mass transit in the United States and two-thirds of the nation's rail riders live in New York City and its suburbs.[3][4]


Most medium-sized cities have some form of local public transportation, usually a network of fixed bus routes. Larger cities often have metro rail systems (also known as heavy rail in the U.S.) and/or light rail systems for high-capacity passenger service within the urban area, and commuter rail to serve the surrounding metropolitan area. These include:

Region Name Locale Type
New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
Includes: Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, New York City Subway, MTA Regional Bus Operations, and Staten Island Railway
New York City, Long Island, Lower Hudson Valley, Coastal Connecticut Commuter rail, local and express bus, subway, and bus rapid transit
Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) Newark / Hudson County, New Jersey and Manhattan, New York Rapid transit
Los Angeles Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Los Angeles County, California Rapid transit (subway), Light rail, Bus, Bus rapid transit
Metrolink Southern California Commuter rail
Chicago Chicago Transit Authority (cta) Chicago, Illinois Bus and rapid transit, including the Chicago 'L'
Metra Chicago Metropolitan Area Commuter rail
Pace Northeastern Illinois Commuter and paratransit bus
Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) Houston Bus Service, Light Rail, Paratransit Services, Express Lanes
Phoenix Valley Metro Phoenix metropolitan area Light rail, bus, BRT, Vanpool
Philadelphia Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Delaware Valley Commuter rail, interurban, rapid transit, streetcar, transit bus, and trolleybus
Austin Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Greater Austin Commuter Rail, Local, Express, Bus Transit and Van Pool
San Antonio VIA Metropolitan Transit Greater San Antonio Local, Express, Bus Rapid Transit
Atlanta Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Atlanta Metropolitan Area Bus routes, bus rapid transit, rail track, rapid transit, and streetcar
Atlanta Streetcar Atlanta Streetcar
Baltimore Maryland Transit Administration (MTA Maryland) Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area Bus, light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail
Charm City Circulator Baltimore Bus, watertaxi
Greater Boston Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Bus, bus rapid transit, light rail, commuter rail, trolleybus, and ferryboat
Erie and Niagara counties, New York Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Bus, light rail, and rapid transit
New Jersey, Manhattan, Rockland and Orange counties, New York, and Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania New Jersey Transit Commuter rail, light rail, and bus
Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina Lynx Rapid Transit Services Light rail and streetcar (bus rapid transit planned)
Cuyahoga County, Ohio RTA Rapid Transit Rapid transit, light rail, and bus
Dallas, Texas Dallas Area Rapid Transit Bus, light rail, commuter rail, streetcar
Denver Metro Area, Colorado Regional Transportation District Bus and light rail
Los Angeles County, California Los Angeles County Metro Rail Rapid transit and light rail
Greater Miami Miami-Dade Transit Rapid transit, people mover, bus rapid transit, and transit bus
Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area METRO Light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit
City of New Orleans and Orleans Parish, Louisiana New Orleans Regional Transit Authority Bus, heritage streetcar
Allegheny County and bordering portions of Beaver, Washington, Westmoreland and Armstrong counties Port Authority of Allegheny County Public transit, light rail, bus rapid transit, and inclined-plane railway (funicular)
Portland metropolitan area, Oregon MAX Light Rail Light rail
Sacramento, California Sacramento Regional Transit District Bus and light rail
Greater St. Louis MetroLink Light rail
Wasatch Front, Utah Utah Transit Authority Bus, light rail (including TRAX), commuter rail, and streetcar
San Diego County, California San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Buses, bus rapid transit, light rail, commuter rail, paratransit, and streetcar
San Francisco Bay Area Bay Area Rapid Transit Rapid transit
San Francisco San Francisco Municipal Railway Bus, trolleybus, light rail, streetcar, and cable cars
San Jose, California Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Bus and light rail
Puget Sound region, Washington Sound Transit Regional express bus, commuter rail, and light rail
The District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and northern Virginia Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Rapid transit (Washington Metro), bus (Metrobus), and paratransit (MetroAccess)
Downtown Las Vegas starting from close to McCarran International Airport Las Vegas Monorail Elevated monorail currently connecting local hotels and the Las Vegas Convention Center


American mass transit is funded by a combination of local, state, and federal agencies. At the federal level, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provides financial assistance and technical assistance to state governments and local transit providers. From FY 2005 to FY 2009, the funding scheme for the FTA was regulated by the SAFETEA-LU bill, which appropriated $286.4 billion in guaranteed funding.[5] The FTA awards grants through several programs, such as the New Starts program and Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program.


On June 26, 2008, the House passed the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act (H.R. 6052),[6] which gives grants to mass transit authorities to lower fares for commuters pinched at the pump and expand transit services. The bill also:

  • Requires that all Federal agencies offer their employees transit pass transportation fringe benefits. Federal agencies within the National Capital Region have successful transit pass benefits programs.
  • Increases the Federal cost-share of grants for construction of additional parking facilities at the end of subway lines from 80 to 100 percent to cover an increase in the number of people taking mass transit.
  • Creates a pilot program for vanpool demonstration projects in urban and rural areas.
  • Increases federal help for local governments to purchase alternative fuel buses, locomotives and ferries from 90 to 100 percent.

Advanced public transportation systems[edit]

Advanced public transportation systems (or APTS) is an Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems, or IVHS, technology that is designed to improve transit services through advanced vehicle operations, communications, customer service, energy efficiency, air pollution reduction and market development.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stromberg, Joseph (Aug 10, 2015). "The real reason American public transportation is such a disaster". Vox. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-05-04. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
  3. ^ "The MTA Network: Public Transportation for the New York Region". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2006-05-17.
  4. ^ Pisarski, Alan (October 16, 2006). "Commuting in America III: Commuting Facts" (PDF). Transportation Research Board. Retrieved 2007-03-27.
  5. ^ SAFETEA-LU Implementation Archived 2010-08-27 at the Wayback Machine., Federal Transit Administration.
  6. ^ [1] Archived 2008-10-02 at the Wayback Machine.

Further reading[edit]