Popular data-centric blog FiveThirtyEight recently crunched some numbers on the usage of the nation’s public transportation, and it revealed that State College is the city with the eighth-most used public transit system per capita in the country.
FiveThirtyEight employed data from the National Transit Database of all types of transit systems to report that in the 290 reporting United States bureaus with populations of 65,000 or more, State College had 85 trips per capita in 2013. That means that for the 2013 population of 87,702, the public transit system here was used more than 7.45 million times. New York was No. 1 overall, with 229.8 trips per capita and about 4.3 billion overall.
It’s some timely news for CATA, which recently announced that its ridership hit an all-time high of about 7.35 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year, according to StateCollege.com. CATA’s strong ranking is bolstered by the fact that most of the other top cities reported data that included both widely-used trains and subways. CATA’s last record was set in 2009-10, when it reached 7.1 million riders. The particular routes that saw big gains were the W to Valley Vista (56.8 percent), HP to Toftrees and Scenery Park (40.2 percent), and the M to Nittany Mall (32.3 percent).
State College actually slotted right behind the home to another Big Ten school in the data, as Champaign, Ill., clocked in at No. 7. It also ranked two spots above a fellow Pennsylvania city, Philadelphia, at No. 10. Compared to other “small” urban areas, State College was fourth on the list, behind Champaign, Honolulu, and Athens, Ga. The definition of small is pretty broad, though — that’s any city with a population between 65,000 and 1 million.
Headed by analyst Nate Silver of president-pickin’ fame, FiveThirtyEight is known for picking apart data from politics to sports to whatever it feels like doing, really. We’ve all moaned about the CATA app, but it’s cool to see little ol’ State College’s transit up there with some of the country’s biggest cities.