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U.S. light-rail ridership rose 3 percent in first-quarter 2016 compared with the same period last year, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reported yesterday.Thirteen of the 29 light-rail systems in the country posted ridership gains, including Houston, where ridership jumped 32.3 percent; Baltimore, 25 percent; and Newark, N.J., 13.5 percent, according to APTA's first-quarter ridership report.At the same time, commuter-rail ridership rose 2.7 percent year over year, with 16 of 29 systems reporting increases. Ridership on subways and elevated trains nudged up 2.5 percent nationwide. Heavy-rail systems that reported increases include MTA New York City Transit, where ridership increased 2.8 percent; the Chicago Transit Authority, 3.3 percent; and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, 7.4 percent. Across all modes of public transportation, nearly 2.6 billion trips were taken during the quarter, marking a 0.4 percent increase over first-quarter 2015. The increase occurred even as gas prices remained low, APTA officials said in a press release. Lower gas prices generally lead to small dips in public transportation ridership.Nationally, the average price of gas during the first quarter of 2016 was $1.80, which was 40 cents less than the national average cost in first-quarter 2015 first quarter.
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