Tag Archives: cars

Study: Transportation sector now top carbon polluter

The U.S. transportation sector has produced more carbon pollution than any other sector of the economy over the last 12 months, including the electric power, industrial, residential, and commercial sectors.

The results, released by the U.S. Energy and Information Administration, mark the first time that carbon emissions from the transportation sector have exceeded emissions from each of the other sectors since 1979.

“These recent findings are an important wake-up call that highlights the need for urgent action to combat global warming-causing pollution from transportation sources,” said John Olivieri, national campaign director for 21st Century Transportation at the United States Public Interest Research Group.

“This is the first time in nearly 40 years that this has happened,” he added.

The new data present both good and bad news.

Carbon pollution from the electric power sector has decreased some as policymakers have focused more on reducing emissions from that sector.

However, the data also show that little progress is being made in the transportation sector.

In fact, transportation sector emissions are increasing.


“It is increasingly clear that there is no path to combating climate change that doesn’t adequately address carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions from transportation,” Olivieri said in a statement. “Over-reliance on single-occupant vehicle travel and a failure to prioritize non-driving modes of transportation like transit, biking and pedestrian alternatives is having a profound impact on the health of our planet and the health of our citizens.”

A study from researchers at NASA and Duke University found that 120,000 premature deaths could be prevented by 2030 with a reduction in carbon pollution from transportation.

Meanwhile, MIT has calculated that as many as 53,000 lives are lost prematurely each year as a result of overall pollution from transportation sources.

Federal policymakers are considering moving forward with key steps that could help combat the problem. The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently considering new rules that may require localities to track, measure and reduce carbon pollution from transportation sources.

Pursuant to the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), U.S. DOT is required to issue a series of performance standards to provide greater accountability over our national transportation system and to ensure that local action is consistent with key national priorities.

The last of these rules, those governing air pollution and congestion, are open for public comment and U.S. DOT is expected to release the final version of the rule by the end of the year.

“U.S. DOT should be applauded for considering adding a carbon pollution performance standard to the current draft rule on air quality and congestion,” Olivieri said. “However, as the new data make clear, consideration alone is not enough. U.S. DOT must ensure that the final version of the congestion and air quality rule includes a requirement that localities track, measure, and reduce carbon pollution from transportation, as well as publicly report on their progress.”

Recent research also demonstrates that in addition to including a carbon performance standard in new federal regulations, there remain other steps that states can take to reduce carbon pollution from transportation.

A report from Frontier Group, “A New Way Forward: Envisioning a Transportation System without Carbon Pollution” showed there are a variety of tools available that could make a zero-carbon transportation system possible. Such tools include electrification of vehicles, increased use of shared-mobility services (car-sharing, bike-sharing, and ride-sharing), more and better public transportation, greater transit-oriented development, safe and walkable neighborhoods and smart pricing for roads and parking.

“While carbon pollution from transportation is a major problem, the good news is that the tools and technology we need to transition to a carbon-free transportation system already exist,” Olivieri said.  “What’s needed now is the political will at the federal, state, and local levels to take meaningful action.”

Man charged with randomly killing six people in Kalamazoo described as ‘family man’

A An alleged gunman who seemed to choose his victims at random opened fire outside an apartment complex, a car dealership and a restaurant in Michigan, killing six people in a rampage that lasted nearly seven hours, police said.

Authorities identified the shooter as Jason Dalton, a 45-year-old Uber driver and former insurance adjuster who police said had no criminal record. They could not say what motivated him to target victims with no apparent connection to him or to each other in the Saturday night shootings.

“How do you go and tell the families of these victims that they weren’t targeted for any reason other than they were there to be a target?” Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said Sunday at a news conference.

Dalton, who was arrested in Kalamazoo following a massive manhunt, was expected to be arraigned Monday on murder charges.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas described a terrifying series of attacks that began about 6 p.m. Saturday outside the Meadows apartment complex on the eastern edge of Kalamazoo County, where a woman was shot multiple times. She was expected to survive.

A little more than four hours later and 15 miles away, a father and his 17-year-old son were fatally shot while looking at cars at the dealership.

Fifteen minutes after that, five people were gunned down in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, Matyas said. Four of them died.

“These are random murders,” Matyas said.

Between shootings, Dalton apparently took fares through Uber.  One man told 24 hour news 8 that he and his family ordered an Uber and rode with Dalton after the Cracker Barrel shooting and not long before Dalton’s arrest. Although they said nothing alarming happened during their rides, some apparent Uber passengers have posted on Facebook that they were in Dalton’s vehicle when he was driving very erratically just before the shootings. Allegedly, he was involved in a sideswipe hit-and-run crash and ran at least one stop sign.

A spokeswoman for Uber confirmed that Dalton had driven for the company in the past, but she declined to say whether he was driving Saturday night.

Uber prohibits both passengers and drivers from possessing guns of any kind in a vehicle. Anyone found to be in violation of the policy may be prohibited from using or driving for the service.

Dalton was arrested without incident about 12:40 a.m. Sunday after a deputy spotted his vehicle driving through downtown Kalamazoo after leaving a bar parking lot, authorities said.

Matyas declined to disclose anything found in the vehicle except for a semi-automatic handgun.

A man who knows Dalton said he was a married father of two who never showed any signs of violence.  Dalton lived with his wife and two kids in a small ranch-style house in a rural area of Michigan.

Gary Pardo Jr., whose parents live across the street from Dalton in Kalamazoo Township, described him as a family man who seemed fixated on cars and often worked on them. 

“He would go a month without mowing his lawn but was very meticulous with his cars,” Pardo said, explaining that Dalton, at times, owned a Chevrolet Camaro and two Hummer SUVs.

Progressive Insurance confirmed that he once worked for the company before leaving in 2011.

Dalton was an insurance adjuster who did auto-body estimates and once taught an auto-body repair class at an area community college, said James Block, who has lived next door to him for 17 years.

“He loved to do things outside with his kids” like taking them for rides on his lawn tractor, Block said.

Neighbors told the the Detroit Free Press that Dalton “liked guns,” and another news source reported that he caught authorities’ attention in the past for shooting guns out of his home’s backdoor.

His wife and children were unhurt, authorities said.

The suspect was in contact with more than one person during the rampage, authorities said, but they would not elaborate. Prosecutors said they did not expect to charge anyone else.

Authorities were interviewing Dalton and reviewing his phone. They did not know if the handgun belonged to him, Getting said.

“This is every community’s nightmare — when you have someone going around just randomly killing people, no rhyme, no reason,” Getting said.

Tammy George said the woman who was shot outside the apartment building is her next-door neighbor. She and her family heard the gunfire, ran outside and saw the woman on the ground.

Four bullets flew into a closet of George’s home, she said. Her son, James, was playing video games with two friends a few feet away from where the bullets pierced the wall.

“I checked out the back window and saw a car speeding off,” said James George, 17.

On Sunday morning, Tammy George came outside to clean the parking lot.

“I was worried about the kids coming out and seeing their mom’s blood,” she said. “I cleaned it up. No kid should have to come out and see their parent’s blood on the ground.”

During a Sunday morning news conference, some law enforcement officials wiped teary eyes or got choked up. When the news conference ended, Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell and Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley embraced.

The four people killed outside the restaurant were identified as 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye of Baroda and 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye, 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne and 74-year-old Dorothy Brown, all of Battle Creek.

The two victims killed at the car dealership were identified as Tyler Smith and his father, Richard, who was 53.

A 14-year-old girl wounded at the restaurant was hospitalized in critical condition.

Late Sunday night, mourners streamed into a Kalamazoo church for a prayer service intended to honor the victims and help residents cope.

With a population of about 75,000, Kalamazoo is about 160 miles west of Detroit. It is home to Western Michigan University and the headquarters of popular craft beer maker Bell’s Brewery. The city also is known for the anonymously funded Kalamazoo Promise program, which has paid college tuition of students who graduate from Kalamazoo Public Schools for more than a decade.

Associated Press writers Mike Householder and Tom Krisher in Kalamazoo, Don Babwin in Chicago and WiG contributed to this report.

‘Green’ autos among those on display at auto shows

I learned the fundamentals of driving at the 1973 Chicago Auto Show. I was 9 years old and seated behind the wheel of an American Motors Hornet. The two-door hatchback featured in the show was the Levi’s edition, with an interior nylon fabric that looked like blue jeans, gold stitching and copper rivets.

In the driver’s seat of that Super Seventies car, going “vroom, vroom, vroom” and turning the wheel like Richard Petty, I got hooked — on Hornets, blue jeans and auto shows.

Later this month, the automakers will buff up their latest models and cruise downtown for the Greater Milwaukee Auto Show. The event takes place Feb. 20–28 at the Wisconsin Center.

Show attendees won’t see a new AMC Hornet — the model ran its course at the end of the 1970s and the automaker went defunct in 1988.

But some lucky kids can climb behind the wheels of the current cool cars at the Kids Test Drive station and go “vroom, vroom.”

And some lucky adults can test the latest from Subaru, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat, Toyota, Mazda, Kia and Chevrolet and learn about the newest innovations, including smart cars and green autos.

The Milwaukee show follows major industry events in Chicago, Detroit and Washington, D.C., where capital car enthusiasts celebrated “public policy day” with the naming of the “green” autos of the year.

The eco-achievements, bestowed by Green Car Journal, went to:

• Volvo’s new XC90 T8 as the Luxury Green Car of the Year.

• Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid as the Green Connected Car of the Year.

• Honda HR-V as the Green SUV of the Year.

“These are standout vehicles in an increasingly sophisticated and appealing field of green cars,” said Green Car Journal publisher Ron Cogan. “To make the cut as a finalist is a real achievement in itself, considering the considerable competition in the market today.”

Volvo’s XC90 T8 is the industry’s first seven-passenger plug-in hybrid SUV. The vehicle uses a 2.0-liter, super-charged and turbo-charged Drive E engine with a rear-axle electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries. Finalists in the luxury field include the BMW X5 xDrive40e, Lexus RX 450h, Mercedes-Benz C350e and Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid.

“Volvo is committed to a vehicle electrification strategy that will make powerful and efficient plug-in hybrid powertrains available in more models,” pledged Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Car USA. 

The Honda HR-V compact crossover is a sporty vehicle that gets up to 35 mpg on the highway with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine. Finalists in the SUV category include BMW X1 xDrive28i, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

Chevrolet’s all-new Malibu Hybrid features an efficient hybrid powertrain — derived from the Chevy Volt — that delivers an estimated 47 combined mpg. The car is packed with technology — Apple CarPlay, Android Auto capabilities, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, forward collision alert and a safety-focused feature for young drivers.

Finalists in the connected category include the Audi A3 e-tron, BMW 330e, Volvo XC90 T8 and the Prius by Toyota, which made the first vehicle I ever drove on the road. It was a gold Corolla and I was 12, but that’s another story.

At a glance

WHAT: The Greater Milwaukee Auto Show, with more than 30 manufacturers.

WHERE: The Wisconsin Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave.

WHEN: Feb. 20–28

HOW MUCH: $12 for 13 and older, $9 for seniors, $6 for kids.

FOR MORE: autoshowmilwaukee.com.


Toyota driven to eliminate gasoline cars by 2050

Toyota, under ambitious environmental targets, is aiming to sell hardly any regular gasoline vehicles by 2050, only hybrids and fuel cells, to radically reduce emissions.

The automaker promised to involve governments, affiliated companies and other “stakeholders” in its push to reduce average emissions from Toyota cars by 90 percent by about 2050, compared with 2010 levels. 

Electric cars weren’t part of their vision, outlined by top Toyota Motor Corp. officials at a Tokyo museum, striking a contrast with rivals such as Nissan Motor Co., which has banked on that zero-emissions technology.

Toyota’s commitments come at a time when the auto industry has been shaken by a scandal at Germany’s Volkswagen AG, in which it admitted it cheated on diesel emissions tests covering millions of cars.

Toyota projected its annual sales of fuel cell vehicles will reach more than 30,000 by about 2020, which is 10 times its projected figure for 2017.

Fuel cells run on hydrogen and are zero-emissions. Toyota’s Mirai fuel cell went on sale late last year. Toyota has received 1,500 orders for the Mirai in Japan, and it just went on sale in the U.S. and Europe.

Annual sales of hybrid vehicles will reach 1.5 million and by 2020 Toyota would have sold 15 million hybrids, nearly twice what it has sold so far around the world, it said.

Hybrids switch back and forth between a gasoline engine and an electric motor to deliver an efficient ride.

The Toyota Prius, which went on sale in 1997, is the top-selling hybrid, with about 4 million sold globally so far. Toyota is promising to develop a hybrid version in every category, including usually gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles, as well as luxury models.   

“You may think 35 years is a long time,” Senior Managing Officer Kiyotaka Ise told reporters. “But for an automaker to envision all combustion engines as gone is pretty extraordinary.”

Ise acknowledged some gasoline engine cars would remain in less developed markets, but only in small numbers.

He and other Toyota officials insisted on the inevitability of their overall vision, stressing that the problems of global warming and environmental destruction made a move toward a hydrogen-based society a necessity.

Experts agree more has to be done to curtail global warming and pollution, and nations are increasingly tightening emissions standards.

But they are divided on whether all gasoline engines will disappear, or they’ll stay on, thanks to greener internal combustion engines, as well as the arrival of clean diesel technology.

Tatsuo Yoshida, senior analyst at Barclays Securities Japan in Tokyo, said Toyota’s goals weren’t far-fetched.

“The internal combustion engine is developing and metamorphosing into hybrids,” he said. “Toyota has been working on this technology for a long time. When officials speak out like this, it means they are 120 percent confident this is their scenario.”    

As part of its environmental vision, Toyota also promised to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from production lines during manufacturing in 2030 to about a third of 2001 levels.

Toyota said it will develop manufacturing technology that uses hydrogen, and will use wind power at its Tahara plant, both by 2020. It also promised to beef up various recycling measures, including developing ways to build vehicles from recycled ones.

When asked why Toyota remained so cautious on electric vehicles, they said they take too long to recharge, despite battery innovations that have made them smaller, restricting them for short-range travel in cities. 

Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, known as the “father of the Prius,” said the company was taking the environment seriously because it has always tried to contribute to a better society.

“We have the same principles since our founding,” he said, showing on stage a photo of Sakichi Toyoda, the Toyota founder’s father, who invented a textile loom in 1891. “That is Toyota’s DNA.”   

99th Birthday Party for Old Rusty the Rail Bridge

Bet you didn’t know the rickety bridge in Walker’s Point had its own name — or that it carries mile-long trains packed full to the brim with highly flammable crude oil right past residents every day, despite its crumbling supports. In an effort to raise awareness of the issue, organizers with Citizens Acting for Rail Safety (an organization concerned about the increasing number of those dangerous trains) have arranged a party to celebrate the bridge’s 99th anniversary. The free, family-friendly event will feature comedy sketches, cake, a piñata and more.

At First and Oregon Streets, Milwaukee. Visit CARS’ Facebook page for more details.

10 a.m. Aug. 29

Michigan-Wisconsin ferry to resume operations

A coal-fired passenger ferry is set to return to service on Lake Michigan after undergoing a makeover to meet terms of a deal with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Ludington Daily News  reports the SS Badger is expected to sail on May 15 from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. It’ll have a new ash retention system as part of a requirement to stop discharging ash into Lake Michigan.

Improvements made to the ship by its operator, Lake Michigan Carferry, have cost an estimated $2.4 million over the last two years.

The 410-foot ferry launched in 1952 and can carry 600 passengers and 180 vehicles. It’s the last coal-fired steamship operating on the Great Lakes.

On the web …


New Mexico hopes ‘singing road’ will curb speeding

New Mexico transportation officials are hoping a “singing road” along historic Route 66 will curb speeding.

Tigress Productions is creating the road between Albuquerque and the mountain community of Tijeras for a new National Geographic Channel series dubbed “Crowd Control” that will debut in November.

The road uses a series of rumble strips to create music. The driver will hear the tune as long as the speed limit is obeyed.

There are only a few such “singing roads” in the world.

Aside from getting drivers to slow down, state Transportation Secretary Tom Church says the rumble strips will keep drowsy drivers from falling asleep at the wheel.

He says the goal of the experiment is to change driver behavior in a fun way by giving them a reward for obeying the speed limit.

Wisconsin drive-in theater rates No. 1 with moviegoers in U.S.

The Skyway Drive-In Theatre in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, rates No. 1 with moviegoers on TripAdvisor.

The world’s largest travel site took on July 30 announced the 10 top drive-in movie theaters in the United States based on its “popularity index.” That index uses reviews — the quality, quantity and recency — from TripAdvisor users for the rankings.

“Drive-in movie theaters can often evoke a nostalgic feeling for years gone by,” aid TripAdvisor spokeswoman Brooke Ferencsik. “For those looking to visit these classic American attractions, the TripAdvisor community has identified 10 fantastic drive-in movie theaters that offer affordable admission and a unique viewing experience that is sure to provide fun for families of all ages.”

And the ratings are:

1. Skyway Drive-In Theatre, Fish Creek, Wisconsin. 
Since 1950, this family-owned theater has welcomed motorized moviegoers with vintage cartoon previews and a snack bar that serves up foot-long hot dogs, candies and novelty ice cream treats. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “This fun, family oriented drive-in theatre has it all! Grassy play area, swings, great sound and picture!” Admission for double feature showings is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-11.

2. Swan Drive In, Blue Ridge, Georgia. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, visitors to this 1950s theater can munch on decadent fare from the concession stand, including deep fried Oreos and funnel cake, while enjoying first-run flicks. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “It really doesn’t matter what movie is playing… just GO! Be sure to visit the snack bar for a great burger, real corn dogs, and all the stuff you remember at the Drive-In!” Admission for double feature showings is $7 for adults and $4 for children ages 4-11.

3. Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre, Lubbock, Texas. 
Opened in 2003, this modern theater boasts three screens, offering auto-bound audiences more viewing options than most vintage drive-ins. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “The kiddos loved the playground area, especially the merry go round! Grandma loved the nostalgic feel of an ‘oldies’-style drive in. My husband loved the food at the ’50s cafe, and I loved the cost, which was quite a bit more affordable than a sit-in movie theater.” Admission for double feature showings is $7 for adults and $5 for children ages 4-11.

4. Highway 21 Drive-In Theater, Beaufort, South Carolina. On Port Royal Island in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, this drive-in operates year-round. Purchased by a couple in 2003, the theater has been brought into the 21st century with the addition of digital players and a second screen. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “With extremely reasonable ticket prices and wallet saving concession prices, the Highway 21 Drive-In really offers a family friendly environment to enjoy a movie.” Admission for double feature showings is $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 5-12.

5. Coyote Drive-In, Fort Worth, Texas. 
With Fort Worth’s skyline as the backdrop, patrons can take in a show in the comfort of their vehicle at this Texan theater. Hungry moviegoers can head to the Coyote Canteen for snacks, craft beer and wine, and on weekends enjoy live music before the screening. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “The atmosphere at Coyote is really nice with a great view of the Ft. Worth skyline making it even cooler.” Admission for double feature showings is $8 for adults and $6 for children ages 4-10.

6. Saco Drive-In Theater, Saco, Maine. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this summer, this southern Maine attraction is the second oldest U.S. drive-in that is still in operation. Before the show starts, children can enjoy on-site laser tag or play in the bounce house, while adults can head to the patio for al fresco refreshments. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “Completely isolated by a wall of mature pines, this place makes for great movie watching.” Admission for double feature showings is $15 for cars of three or less people, $20 for four or more.

7. Hull’s Drive-In, Lexington, Virginia. Known as America’s first community-owned, non-profit drive-in, residents of Lexington saved this theater from closure in 1999. In addition to movies, the theater also hosts various events including concert showings, festivals, flea markets and more. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “In the summer evenings drive in, pull out lawn chairs or sit in your car with the speakers hanging on the window while you watch the movie a la 1955.” Admission for double feature showings is $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 5-11.

8. Starlite Drive-In, Wichita, Kansas. 
In Kansas’ largest city, budget-minded moviegoers can find a bargain at this 40-year-old drive in, which often screens three movies for the price of a single admission. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “Great popcorn, digital projection, your choice of in-car radio sound or the old speaker on the pole, and the ability to set out your lawn chairs and enjoy a good movie under the stars, make this place a real treasure.” Admission for double or triple feature showings is $9 for adults and $2 for children ages 5-11.

9. Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre, Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Built in 1957, this Cape Cod drive-in is the essence of retro. Complete with a mini-golf course an
a snack bar that offers classic fare including cheeseburgers and milkshakes, customers can enjoy old-fashioned fun and food before sitting down for the main event. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “From the entrance booth to the genuine 1950s sound system, the place evokes a long gone era. Drive in, buy your popcorn, sit back and enjoy.” Admission for a double feature showing is $9 for adults and $6 for children ages 4-11.

10. Sunset Drive-In Theatre, San Luis Obispo, California. Operating year-round since 1950, this vintage drive-in located on California’s Central Coast features more than 500 parking spots for film fans to enjoy the show. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “I’ve been coming to this movie theater since I was a kid, and now I take my kids!! It is way cheaper than taking them to the movie theater and the seating is better!” Admission for a single or double feature showing is $8 for adults and $3 for children ages 5-11. 

FYI…The Skyway Drive-In is located at 3475 Highway 42, Fish Creek, Wisconsin 54212. Halfway between Fish Creek and Ephraim. Directly across from Peninsula State Park. Now playing: “Planes: Fire & Rescue” and “Maleficent.”

Do you have a favorite drive-in theater that didn’t make the list, but should have? Share with WiG readers.

Are you missing out on our ticket giveaways and free discount coupons? Simply like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Public transportation use reaches 57-year high, but not in Wisconsin

Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation in 2013, which is the highest annual public transit ridership number in 57 years, according to a report released from the American Public Transportation Association.

And for the eighth year in a row more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide. Vehicle miles traveled on roads went up 0.3 percent last year, but public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1 percent.

“Last year people took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation,” said APTA board chair Peter Varga, who also is the CEO of The Rapid transit system in Grand Rapids, Mich. “As the highest annual ridership number since 1956, Americans in growing numbers want to have more public transit services in their communities. Public transportation systems nationwide — in small, medium and large communities – saw ridership increases. Some reported all-time high ridership numbers.”

Public transit agencies reporting record ridership in 2013 included Ann Arbor, Mich.; Cleveland, Denver, Espanola, New Mexico; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Fort Myers, Fla.; Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Oakland, Calif.; Pompano Beach, Fla.; Riverside, Calif.; Salt Lake City, San Carlos, Calif.; Tampa, Yuma, Ariz.; and  New York City.

Ridership, according to the survey, is up 37.2 percent since 1995, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3 percent, and outpacing vehicle miles, which is up 22.7 percent since 1995.

“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities. People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth,” said APTA president and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Access to public transportation matters. Community leaders know that public transportation investment drives community growth and economic revitalization.”

Another reason behind the ridership increases is the economic recovery in certain areas. When more people are employed, public transportation ridership increases — nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, according to the APTA. “The federal investment in public transit is paying off and that is why Congress needs to act this year to pass a new transportation bill,” said Melaniphy.

The report showed:

• Subway and elevated train ridership increased by 2.8 percent across the country as 8 out of 15 transit systems reported increases.  

• Commuter rail ridership increased by 2.1 percent in 2013 across the country, with 20 out of 28 transit systems reporting increases.  With a new rail line that opened in December 2012, commuter rail in Salt Lake City, saw an increase of 103.3 percent. The following five commuter rail systems saw double digit increases in 2013: Austin, Texas; Harrisburg-Philadelphia; Anchorage, Alaska; Lewisville, Texas; Stockton, Calif.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Portland, Ore.

• Light rail — modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys — ridership increased 1.6 percent in 2013 with 17 out of 27 transit systems reporting increases.

• Bus ridership increased by 3.8 percent in cities with a population of below 100,000. Nationally, bus ridership in communities of all sizes remained stable, declining by 0.1 percent.

• Large bus systems with increases were reported from Washington, D.C., Houston, Cincinnati, and Seattle.

For Wisconsin, the results were mixed: Madison’s system reported a slight bump in use, an increase of 1.01 percent overall. Port Washington reported an increase of 1.47 percent. Milwaukee, however, reported a decrease of use — 2.39 percent overall. Racine’s system reported ridership dropped 4.28 percent.