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Almost 2.6 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation systems in the first quarter, down 0.7 percent compared with the same period in 2014, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA)."On a national level, public transit ridership was basically flat for the first quarter, although increases were seen on heavy rail (subways) and commuter rail," said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy in a statement. “A very cold and snowy winter and lower gas prices impacted public transportation use. The winter was colder than the one in 2014, and in New England, the snowfall amounts reached historic proportions."Nationwide, heavy-rail ridership increased 0.6 percent in the quarter. Out of all 15 systems, eight reported ridership gains, APTA officials said. Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority's ridership jumped 5.5 percent — the largest increase among heavy-rail systems — followed by the Bay Area Rapid Transit, which logged a 5.1 percent increase.Total commuter-rail ridership also rose 0.6 percent in the first quarter. Fifteen of 28 commuter-rail systems posted gains and two registered double-digit increases: Sound Transit in Seattle at 17.4 percent and Capital MetroRail in Austin, Texas, at 11 percent.In the light-rail sector, total ridership fell 1 percent in the quarter, although 13 of 28 such systems logged gains. Due to a new line opening last June, Minneapolis's Metro Transit reported a 151 percent leap in ridership, APTA officials said.
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