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LOS ANGELES — Americans are boarding public buses, trains and subways in greater numbers than at any time since the suburbs began booming.

Nearly 10.7 billion trips in 2013, to be precise — the highest total since 1956, according to ridership data reported by transit systems nationally and released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association.

Seattle, Houston, Miami, Denver and San Diego had large ridership gains.

The New York area’s behemoth transit network saw a gain, accounting for one in three trips nationally.

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Transit ridership has fully recovered from a dip caused by the Great Recession. With services restored after economy-driven cutbacks, ridership numbers appear set to continue what had been a steady increase.

“People are making a fundamental shift to having options” aside from a car in how they get around, said Michael Melaniphy, president and CEO of the transportation association. “This is a long-term trend. This isn’t just a blip.”

Expanding bus and train networks help spur the growth.

Ridership on Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s light-rail trains increased 6 percent over 2012, as the public took advantage of an expanded network of lines.

Overall, LA Metro gained 9 million trips to reach 478 million in 2013, the transportation association said.

Among the other transit systems in California with record ridership was the Caltrain commuter-rail service that connects San Francisco with Silicon Valley.

Transit advocates argue that the public increasingly values the ability to get around without a car. They offer as evidence the nation’s urban shift and the movement to concentrate new development around transit hubs.

“People want to work and live along transit lines,” Melaniphy said. “Businesses, universities and housing are all moving along those corridors.”

Ridership up
Here’s a look at which areas saw the biggest gains
Urban area Agency Increase in unlinked passenger trips 2012 to 2013 Percent increase
New York City New York City Transit Authority 120,635,700 3.6 percent
Los Angeles Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority 9,194,200 2
New York City New Jersey Transit 4,049,700 1.5
Seattle King County Department of Transportation 3,204,400 2.7
Miami Miami-Dade Transit Agency 2,493,800 2.3
attle Sound Transit 2,341,600 8.4
Denver Regional Transportation District 2,257,500 2.6
Houston Metro Transit Authority 2,257,000 2.7
San Diego Metropolitan Transit System 2,230,000 2.6
Source: American Public Transportation
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