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FHWA Home / Policy & Governmental Affairs / Chapter 2: System Characteristics - 2015 Conditions and Performance

Conditions and Performance

2015 Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
Conditions & Performance

chapter 2

chapter 2

System Characteristics

Highway and Bridge System Characteristics

System History

Roads and Bridges by Ownership

Roads and Bridges by Federal System

Federal-Aid Highways

National Highway System

Interstate System

Freight System

Roads and Bridges by Purpose

System Characteristics

Highway Travel by Functional Classification

Bridges by Functional Classification

NHS by Functional Classification

Transit System Characteristics

System History

System Infrastructure

Urban Transit Agencies

Transit Fleet

Track, Stations, and Maintenance Facilities

Rural Transit Systems (Section 5311 Providers)

Transit System Characteristics for Americans with Disabilities and the Elderly

Transit System Characteristics: Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Highway and Bridge System Characteristics

The Nation's extensive network of roadways facilitates movement of people and goods, promotes the growth of the American economy, affords access to national and international markets, and supports national defense by providing the means for rapid deployment of military forces and their support systems. The network's bridges allow for the unimpeded movement of traffic over barriers created by geographical features such as rivers.

This chapter explores the characteristics of the Nation's roadways and bridges in terms of ownership, purpose, and usage. Information is presented for the National Highway System (NHS), including its Interstate Highway System component, and for the overall highway system. Separate statistics also are presented for Federal-aid highways, which include roadways and bridges that are generally eligible for Federal assistance under current law. Subsequent sections within this chapter explore the characteristics of bridges and transit systems.

Road statistics reported in this section draw on data collected from States through the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS). The terms highways, roadways, and roads are generally used interchangeably in this section and elsewhere in the report. Roadways within a community with a population of 5,000 or more are classified as urban, while roadways in areas outside urban boundaries are classified as rural.

Tunnels

Under MAP-21, FHWA was charged with establishing a national tunnel inspection program. In 2015, development began on the National Tunnel Inventory database system, and inventory data were collected for all highway tunnels reported. Concurrently, FHWA implemented an extensive program to train inspectors nationwide on tunnel inspection and condition evaluation.

The 2015 preliminary inventory included 473 tunnels. Of these, 271 (57.3 percent ) are on the National Highway System. States own 304 (64.3 percent ) of the tunnels, 83 (17.5 percent ) are owned by Local governments, 77 (16.3 percent ) are owned by Federal agencies, and 9 (1.9 percent ) are owned by others. Further information can be found at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/inspection/tunnel/.

Complete inventory and condition data for all tunnels will be collected annually, beginning in 2018, and will be available for use in subsequent C&P reports.

Bridge statistics reported in this section draw on data collected from States through the National Bridge Inventory (NBI). This information details physical characteristics, traffic loads, and the evaluation of the condition of each bridge longer than 20 feet (6.1 meters). As of December 2012, NBI contained records for 607,380 bridges. Data for input to NBI are collected regularly as set forth in the National Bridge Inspection Standards.

System History

Before the 20th century, most Americans lived in rural communities or small cities. Railways and waterways were the leading methods of transporting goods and services because the technology was the cheapest. Most of the Nation's paved roads were located in urban centers that did not connect to other urban centers.

As technology progressed, difficulties in transporting agricultural goods to and between population centers continued. The Department of Agriculture established the Office of Road Inquiry in 1893 to determine ways to expand the national road network. The Office of Road Inquiry was moved to the Department of Commerce and renamed the Bureau of Public Roads in 1918 as the road network continued to grow. The agency's mission however, was to collect information on road construction and maintenance. The Federal role on road construction was confined to creating military roads and trails in remote or frontier areas. States were constructing privately operated toll roads.

Although the need for an interstate network to facilitate economic development and national unity had been identified throughout American history, construction of the system did not begin until the 1950s. The 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act transformed highway financing by expanding the Federal role. Federal user fees based on the amount of gasoline purchased were deposited into the Highway Trust Fund to help fast track the construction of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. The Interstate System accelerated interstate and regional commerce, enhanced the country's competitiveness in international markets, increased personal mobility, facilitated military transportation, and furthered metropolitan development throughout the United States. President Eisenhower wrote in his memoir, "More than any single action by the government since the end of the war, this one would change the face of America. Its impact on the American economy … was beyond calculation."

Roads and Bridges by Ownership

Who owns the Federal-aid highway components?

In addition to the Interstate System and National Highway System, federally assisted highway mileage is found on other routes. Based on mileage, State highway agencies own the vast majority of the Interstate and National Highway systems; State highway agencies own 94.1 percent of the Interstate System and 88.1 percent of the National Highway System. In contrast, the Federal government owns only 0.2 percent of the 47,432 Interstate System mileage and 0.2 percent of the 222,946 National Highway System mileage. Local levels of government own the remaining mileage.

State highway agencies own 55.9 percent of the 1,001,874 miles of Federal-aid highways, while the Federal government owns only 0.6 percent of those miles. Local government agencies tend to own Federal-aid highway mileage that is not part of the Interstate and National Highway system.

Source: Highway Statistics HM-16 2012

State and local governments own the vast majority of public roads and bridges. As shown in Exhibit 2-1, local governments own 77.3 percent of the Nation's public road mileage and 50.1 percent of all bridges. State governments own 19.0 percent of public road mileage and 48.2 percent of the Nation's bridges. State and local governments' owning most of the Nation's surface transportation infrastructure is attributed to the construction of lower-volume routes that feed into a larger network eligible for Federal funding. With a match of 20 percent or less, State and local governments leverage Federal assistance to construct larger transportation projects that aid efficient movement throughout the Nation. Although these larger projects are constructed with Federal funding, State and local governments assume ownership responsibilities for maintaining the facilities and keeping them safe for public use.

Exhibit 2-1 Highway and Bridge Ownership by Level of Government

A set of six pie charts plots percentages for four categories of ownership of highways and bridges. The six pie charts show percentages of total highway miles, total highway lane miles, highway VMT, total bridges, total bridge deck area, and bridge traffic carried. Under total highway miles, Federal accounts for 3.7 percent , State accounts for 19.0 percent , and local accounts for 77.3 percent . Under total highway lane miles, Federal accounts for 3.5 percent , State accounts for 21.6 percent , and local accounts for 74.9 percent . Under highway VMT, Federal accounts for 0.1 percent , State accounts for 72.1 percent , and local accounts for 27.9 percent . Under total bridges, Federal accounts for 1.5 percent , State accounts for 48.2 percent , local accounts for 50.1 percent , and other accounts for 0.2 percent . Under total bridge deck area, Federal accounts for 0.7 percent , State accounts for 76.6 percent , local accounts for 22.4 percent , and other accounts for 0.2 percent . Under bridge traffic carried, Federal accounts for 0.2 percent , State accounts for 87.3 percent , local accounts for 12.4 percent , and other accounts for 0.1 percent . Sources: Highway Performance Monitoring System; National Bridge Inventory.

Sources: Highway Performance Monitoring System; National Bridge Inventory.

Federally owned facilities are generally found in National Parks and National Forests, on Indian reservations, and on military bases. Similar to State and local governments' assuming ownership of facilities during construction, federally owned facilities are the responsibility of agencies such as the Department of the Interior and Department of Defense.

The data presented throughout this chapter do not reflect privately owned facilities or facilities not available for public use.

Roads and Bridges by Federal System

The Nation's road network is diversely constructed to fit the needs of its surrounding environment. For example, roads in an urban setting will often have multiple lanes on a facility to support high levels of demand, while a rural setting will have fewer lanes supporting lower traffic levels. Highway mileage measures road distances from one point to another while lane mileage accounts for the number of lanes actually constructed. As shown in Exhibit 2-2, highway mileage and its accompanying lane mileage have increased steadily between 2002 and 2012. With population growth expected throughout the Nation, State and local governments are adding and increasing capacity throughout the road network. As this construction continues, the number of bridges cataloged in NBI has increased 0.3 percent between 2002 and 2012.

Exhibit 2-2 Highway Miles, Lane Miles, Vehicle Miles Traveled, Passenger Miles Traveled, and Bridges, 2002—2012

2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 Annual Rate of Change 2012/2002
Highway Miles 3,981,670 3,997,462 4,032,011 4,059,352 4,083,768 4,109,418 0.3%
Lane Miles 8,327,108 8,372,270 8,460,352 8,518,776 8,616,206 8,641,051 0.4%
VMT (millions) 2,874,455 2,981,998 3,033,957 2,992,779 2,985,095 2,987,403 0.4%
PMT (millions)1 4,667,038 4,844,452 4,929,366 4,900,171 4,244,833 4,274,877 -0.9%
Bridges 586,930 591,707 594,101 601,506 604,493 607,380 0.3%

1 Values for 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008 were based on a vehicle occupancy rate of approximately 1.63 based on data from the 2001 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). Values for 2010 and 2012 were based on a vehicle occupancy rate of approximately 1.42 based on data from the 2009 NHTS. PMT data exclude Puerto Rico.

Sources: Highway Performance Monitoring System; Highway Statistics, Table VM-1, various years; National Bridge Inventory.

Has VMT changed since 2012?

VMT on the Nation's roads is increasing. In 2013, VMT increased 0.6 percent . VMT increased 1.7 percent in 2014.

FHWA forecasts continual VMT growth based on long-term economic and demographics indicators. These indicators include national economic growth, disposable income growth, population growth, and declining global oil prices. Based on these economic indicators, all types of vehicles are expected to experience an increase in VMT.

Source: FHWA Traffic Volume Trends and FHWA Forecasts of Vehicle Miles Traveled

Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) measures the distance each vehicle traverses the Nation's road network in a year. Passenger miles traveled (PMT) weights travel by the number of occupants in a vehicle. As shown in Exhibit 2-2, total highway VMT grew by 0.4 percent between 2002 and 2012. Annual PMT, however, has decreased 0.9 percent during this period, due to a reduction in average vehicle occupancy and an increase in drivers driving alone. The change in vehicle occupancy was measured in the 2009 National Household Travel Survey, and the new PMT value was used from 2010 on.

Exhibit 2-3 shows annual VMT growth rates between 1992 and 2012. An examination of recent trends shows VMT growth has fluctuated between 2006 and 2012. The negative growth rates can be attributed partially to the period of economic contraction from December 2007 to June 2009 identified by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Now that the economy has stabilized, Americans are beginning to travel more often. Of note, however, is that VMT growth had been trending downward: Annual VMT growth rate last exceeded 3 percent in 1997 and has been less than 1 percent every year since 2004.

Exhibit 2-3 Annual Growth Rates in Vehicle Miles Traveled, 1992—2012

Line chart plots values in percent over the years 1992 to 2012. From an initial value of 3.46 percent in 1992, the trend is downward to 2.19 percent in 1993, up to 2.97 percent in 1998 and down to 1.77 percent in 2001. The trend then decreases to 1.22 percent in 2003 and then goes sharply upward to a value of 2.58 percent in 2004. The trend continues downward sharply to -1.80 percent in 2008, up sharply to 0.33 percent in 2010, then downward to -0.69 percent in 2011, and upward to finish at 0.79 percent in 2012. Source: Highway Statistics 2013, Table VM-202.

Source: Highway Statistics 2013, Table VM-202.

Federal-Aid Highways

The mileage eligible for Federal-aid highway assistance is much smaller than the total road mileage throughout the Nation. Federal-aid highway assistance mileage, however, consists of longer routes that cross multiple States and facilitate higher traffic volumes at increased speeds. Conversely, non-Federal-aid highway mileage generally consists of shorter and smaller roads that eventually feed into the larger facilities that are eligible for Federal assistance. A discussion on roads eligible for Federal-aid highway assistance is presented later in this section.

As shown in Exhibit 2-4, Federal-aid highways comprised approximately 1.0 million miles in 2012 and facilitated more than 2.5 trillion VMT. Federal-aid highway VMT was similarly affected by the economic impacts of 2007, as shown by comparing total VMT in Exhibit 2-2. This impact occurred primarily because most of the Nation's VMT occurs on Federal-aid highways.

Between 2002 and 2012, highway mileage, lane mileage, VMT, and the number of bridges have increased slightly.

Exhibit 2-4 Federal-Aid Highway Miles, Lane Miles, Vehicle Miles Traveled, and Number of Bridges,
2002—2012

Annual Rate of Change
2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2012/2002
Highway Miles 959,125 971,036 984,093 994,358 1,007,777 1,005,378 0.5%
Lane Miles 2,282,024 2,319,417 2,364,514 2,388,809 2,451,140 2,433,012 0.6%
VMT (millions) 2,430,698 2,531,629 2,573,956 2,534,490 2,525,455 2,526,558 0.4%
Bridges 305,609 307,840 312,062 316,012 319,108 321,724 0.5%
Sources: Highway Performance Monitoring System; National Bridge Inventory.
National Highway System

With the Interstate System essentially complete, the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 revised the Federal-aid highway program for the post-Interstate System era. The legislation authorized designation of an NHS that would give priority for Federal resources to roads most important for interstate travel, economic expansion, and national defense; that connect with other modes of transportation; and that are essential to the Nation's role in the international marketplace.

The NHS was designed to be a dynamic system capable of changing in response to future travel and trade demands. States must cooperate with local and regional officials in proposing modifications. In metropolitan areas, local and regional officials must act through metropolitan planning organizations and the State transportation department when proposing modifications. Numerous such modifications are proposed and approved each year.

The NHS has five components. The first, the Interstate System, is the core of the NHS and includes the most traveled routes. The second component includes other principal arterials deemed most important for commerce and trade. The third is the Strategic Highway Network (STRAHNET), which consists of highways important to military mobilization. The fourth is the system of STRAHNET connectors that provide access between major military installations and routes that are part of STRAHNET. The final component consists of intermodal connectors. These roads provide access between major intermodal passenger and freight facilities and the other four subsystems that comprise the NHS.

As shown in Exhibit 2-5, only 5.4 percent of the Nation's highway mileage and 8.9 percent of the Nation's lane mileage are located on the NHS. Approximately 55.0 percent of the Nation's VMT, however, occurs on the NHS. The NHS is crucial to truck traffic, which carries cargo long distances, often across multiple State lines. Approximately 83.1 percent of truck VMT occurred on the NHS.

Exhibit 2-5 Share of Highway Miles, Lane Miles, Vehicle Miles Traveled, and Truck Vehicle Miles Traveled On and Off the National Highway System, 20121

A bar chart plots percent values for NHS and Non-NHS across four categories. For route miles, the values are NHS at 5.4 percent and non-NHS at 94.6 percent . For lane miles, the values are NHS at 8.9 percent and non-NHS at 91.1 percent . For VMT, the values are NHS at 55.0 percent and non-NHS at 45.0 percent . For truck VMT, the values are NHS at 83.1 percent and non-NHS at 16.9 percent . Source: Highway Performance Monitoring System (as of October 2013).

1Data reflect the expansion of the NHS required by MAP-21. (Bridge data are not shown as the 2012 National Bridge Inventory data still used the pre-MAP-21 version of the NHS.)

Source: Highway Performance Monitoring System.

MAP-21 Expansion of the NHS

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act of 2012 (MAP-21) modified the scope and extent of the NHS to include some additional principal arterial and related connector mileage not previously designated as part of the NHS.

The expansion of the NHS to include all principal arterials increased its size from 4.0 percent of the Nation's roadway miles to 5.4 percent . The NHS share of total lane mileage increased from 6.6 percent to 8.9 percent . The share of total VMT carried by the NHS increased from 43.9 percent to 55.0 percent ; for truck VMT, the share carried by the NHS increased from 75.1 percent to 83.1 percent .

In view of the importance of the NHS for truck traffic and freight, State DOTs often will design such highways to accommodate trucks at higher volumes and speeds in the safest and most efficient ways possible. Additionally, NHS highways often are constructed with stronger, more robust materials that enable them to withstand the heavier loads trucks convey.

Interstate System

With the strong support of President Eisenhower, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 declared the completion of the "National System of Interstate and Defense Highways" was essential to the national interest. The Act committed the Nation to completing the Interstate System within the Federal-State partnership of the Federal-aid highway program, with the State responsible for construction according to approved standards. The Act also resolved the challenging issue of how to pay for construction by establishing the Highway Trust Fund to ensure that revenue from highway user taxes, such as the motor fuels tax, would be dedicated to the Interstate System and other Federal-aid highway and bridge projects.

As shown in Exhibit 2-6, small additions to the Interstate System have occurred between 2002 and 2012 at a rate of 0.2 percent . Lane mileage has also increased by 0.4 percent during this period, suggesting that Interstate capacity has increased slightly.

Exhibit 2-6 Interstate Highway Miles, Lane Miles, Vehicle Miles Traveled, and Numbers of Bridges,
2002—20121

2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 Annual Rate of Change
2012/2002
Highway Miles 46,747 46,836 46,892 47,019 47,182 47,714 0.2%
Lane Miles 210,896 212,029 213,542 214,880 217,165 220,124 0.4%
VMT (millions) 693,941 727,163 741,002 725,213 731,095 735,914 0.6%
Bridges 55,234 55,315 55,270 55,626 55,339 55,959 0.1%
Sources: Highway Performance Monitoring System; National Bridge Inventory.

Freight System

Freight in America travels over an extensive network of highways, railroads, waterways, pipelines, and airways: 985,000 miles of Federal-aid highways, 141,000 miles of railroads, 11,000 miles of inland waterways, and 1.6 million miles of pipelines. The Nation has more than 19,000 airports, with approximately 540 serving commercial operations, and more than 5,000 coastal, Great Lakes, and inland waterway facilities moving cargo. Although specific commodities are likely to be moved on a particular mode or series of modes, a complex multimodal system is required to meet fully the growing volume of bulk and high-velocity, high-value goods in the United States.

The U.S. freight highway transportation system is, in the broadest sense, composed of all Federal, State, local (county or municipal), and private roads that facilitate the movement of freight-hauling trucks or commercial vehicles. The National Network, however, is the system of roadways officially designated to accommodate commercial freight-hauling vehicles. The National Network was authorized by the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, and specified in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. 23 CFR 658 is the requirement that States allow conventional combinations on the Interstate System and those portions of the Federal-aid Primary System serving to link principal cities and densely developed portions of the States on high volume routes utilized extensively by large vehicles for interstate commerce. Conventional combinations are tractors with one semitrailer up to 48 feet in length or with one 28-foot semitrailer and one 28-foot trailer up to 102 inches wide. Currently, most States allow conventional combination trucks with single trailers up to 53 feet in length to operate without permits on their portions of the National Network (see Exhibit 2-7).

Exhibit 2-7 National Network for Conventional Combination Trucks, 20131,2

An outline map of the 48 contiguous states and insets for Alaska and Hawaii show the routes for freight by mode. The Interstate network is most densely developed in the eastern to Midwestern portion of the continental U.S. and southeastern portion of Alaska. The National Network on the National Highway System is most densely developed in the mid-Atlantic states, the Great Lakes states, and the Great Plains states to the Gulf of Mexico. The National Network not on the National Highway System is most densely developed in Ohio and Indiana, and in the Great Plains states to the Gulf of Mexico. The other National Highway System routes are most densely developed along the east coast to the Gulf of Mexico and on the west coast. Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Freight Management and Operations, Freight Analysis Framework, version 3.4, 2013.

1This map should not be interpreted as the official National Network and should not be used for truck size and weight enforcement purposes. The National Network and the 65,000 miles of highways beyond the NHS, and the NHS encompasses about 50,000 miles of highways that are not part of the National Network.National Highway System (NHS) are approximately 200,000 miles in length, but the National Network includes 65,000 miles of highways beyond the NHS, and the NHS encompasses about 50,000 miles of highways that are not part of the National Network.

2 "Other NHS" refers to NHS mileage that is not included on the National Network. Conventional combination trucks are tractors with one semitrailer up to 48 feet in length or with one 28-foot semitrailer and one 28-foot trailer. Conventional combination trucks can be up to 102 inches wide.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Freight Management and Operations, Freight Analysis Framework, version 3.4, 2013 (http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/Freight/freight_analysis/nat_freight_stats/nnnhs2013.htm).

The National Network has remained generally unchanged since its designation in 1982. The network is essential for supporting interstate commerce by maintaining truck access to major industrial centers and freight generators. The National Network differs in extent and purpose from the NHS, which was created more than a decade later by the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 and modified in 2012 by MAP-21.

The National Network and the NHS share more than 114,000 miles. The National Network includes 65,000 miles of highway not on the NHS, and the NHS includes 50,000 miles not on the National Network. Both the National Network and the NHS were created to support interstate commerce. The National Network protects interstate commerce by ensuring that all States allow certain truck configurations to travel on the system, while the NHS supports long-distance interstate travel such as connecting routes between principal metropolitan areas and industrial centers important to national defense and the national economy.

MAP-21 outlined the requirements for new freight routes and the creation and definition of a highway-focused National Freight Network (NFN). The NFN was intended to include the most important urban, rural, and intercity routes for commercial truck movements. This network overlapped portions of both the National Network and the NHS and includes mileage that is not part of either of those two networks. The NFN consisted of (1) a Primary Freight Network (PFN) that DOT designates, (2) the portions of the Interstate Highway System not selected to be part of the PFN, and (3) Critical Rural Freight Corridors that States designate.

MAP-21 mandated the PFN include no more than 27,000 centerline miles of existing roadways and be defined based on eight factors specified in the legislation. DOT found that these factors did not yield a network representative of the most critical highway elements of the national freight system. DOT had reservations about the limitations of the NFN, and particularly the PFN. In addition to the challenges associated with creating an interconnected PFN that met the 27,000-mile limitation, the MAP-21 NFN provisions did not allow nonhighway modes, such as railroads, waterways, and pipelines, to be included in the NFN.

The FAST Act repealed both the Primary Freight Network and National Freight Network from MAP-21. To replace and improve upon those networks, the FAST Act directed the FHWA Administrator to establish a National Highway Freight Network (NHFN) to strategically direct Federal resources and policies toward improved performance of highway portions of the U.S. freight transportation system. The NHFN includes the following subsystems of roadways:

  • Primary Highway Freight System (PHFS): This is a network of highways identified as the most critical highway portions of the U.S. freight transportation system determined by measurable and objective national data. The network consists of 41,518 centerlines miles, including 37,436 centerline miles of Interstate and 4,082 centerline miles of non-Interstate roads.
  • Other Interstate portions not on the PHFS: These highways consist of the remaining portion of Interstate roads not included in the PHFS. These routes provide important continuity and access to freight transportation facilities. These portions amount to an estimated 9,511 centerline miles of Interstate, nationwide, and will fluctuate with additions and deletions to the Interstate Highway System.
  • Critical Rural Freight Corridors (CRFCs): These are public roads not in an urbanized area that provide access and connection to the PHFS and the Interstate with other important ports, public transportation facilities, or other intermodal freight facilities. These roadways will be identified by State Departments of Transportation.
  • Critical Urban Freight Corridors (CUFCs): These are public roads in urbanized areas that provide access and connection to the PHFS and the Interstate with other ports, public transportation facilities, or other intermodal transportation facilities. These roadways will be identified by either State Departments of Transportation or Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), depending on the population of MPOs' urbanized areas.

After the initial designation, FHWA must redesignate the PHFS every 5 years, with up to 3 percent growth each time.

The FAST Act requires DOT to develop, in consultation with a range of stakeholders, a National Freight Strategic Plan and to update this plan every 5 years. The FAST ACT directed DOT to establish an interim National Multimodal Freight Network to include the NHFN, freight rail systems of Class I railroads, the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway, inland and intracoastal waterways, ports and airports that meet specified criteria, and other strategic freight assets. DOT must designate a National Multimodal Freight Network and must redesignate this network every 5 years with input from a wide range of stakeholders.

Roads and Bridges by Purpose

How are arterials defined?

Arterials serve the longest distances with the fewest access points. Because they have the longest distance between other routes, arterials facilitate the highest speed limits. Several functional classifications are included in the arterial category.

Interstates are the highest classification of arterials facilitating the highest level of mobility. Interstates are relatively easy to locate due to their official designation by the Secretary of Transportation.

Other Freeways and Express ways aresimilar to Interstates in that they have directional travel lanes usually separated by a physical barrier. Access and egress points are limited primarily to on- and off-ramps at grade-separated interchanges.

Other Principal Arterials can serve specific land parcels directly and have at-grade intersections with other roadways that are managed by traffic devices.

Minor Arterials, the lowest of arterial classifications, provide service for trips of moderate length and offer connectivity to the higher arterial classifications.

Source: Highway Functional Classification Concepts, Criteria and Procedures 2013

The Nation's roadway system is a vast network that connects places and people within and across national borders. The network serves movements from long-distance freight needs to neighborhood travel. Because of the diverse needs for vehicular travel, the network is categorized under the Highway Functional Classification System. Each functional classification defines the role an element of the network plays in serving travel needs.

As shown in Exhibit 2-8, roadways serve two primary travel needs: access and mobility. The two concepts are illustrated on both far ends of the exhibit. Access roads enable many roadway users to enter the system at any given time. Access roads can be found in the urban setting next to office buildings or suburban neighborhoods that have a high concentration of residences. Many vehicles entering the network from multiple directions create higher points of friction. Friction points can occur when a vehicle decelerates or stops so another car can enter a roadway. Access streets have lower speeds and more traffic control devices to accommodate traffic traveling shorter distances. Mobility roads allow many users to travel in the same direction on the network. These roads are found in interstate travel or around urban centers to move vehicles quickly. These roads can facilitate higher speed limits over longer distances because fewer opportunities for entry and exit to the road are available.

Any normal trip on the roadway system could use roads that serve different purposes. For example, a traveler can leave a suburban home located on a local street and use an arterial Interstate to commute to an urban office located on a local street. For this commuter to transition from an accessible road to a mobility road, a collector road must be used. Exhibit 2-8 depicts collectors as a bridge between local roads and arterials.

Exhibit 2-8 Functional Classifications

This exhibit (top portion) illustrates the Highway Functional Classification System as a network of local roads (left side of the exhibit), collectors (center of the exhibit), and arterials (right side of exhibit). Arterials include interstates, other freeways, and expressways; other principal arterials; and minor arterials. Collectors serve as a bridge between local roads and arterials. The bottom portion of the exhibit illustrates that roadways serve two primary travel needs: access and mobility. Accessible roads enable roadway users to enter the system at any given time, providing the greatest means of entry. Mobility roads allow many users to travel in the same direction on the network and facilitate higher speeds over longer distances because fewer opportunities for entry and exit to the road are available. Source: FHWA Functional Classification Guidelines.

Source: FHWA Functional Classification Guidelines.

Exhibit 2-9 presents a formal hierarchy of road functional classifications. The functional classifications establish which roads are eligible for Federal-aid highway funding. Although the functional classification definitions do not change for each setting, roads are divided into rural and urban classifications.

The hierarchy continues the access and mobility concepts with collector roads bridging the two. Arterials include both principal and minor arterials. Interstates, other principal arterials, and other freeways and expressways are a component of principal arterials. Within the collector classification, roads are divided into major or minor collectors. All other roads are considered local.

Exhibit 2-9 Highway Functional Classification System Hierarchy

This flowchart shows FHWA functional classifications with subcategories under U.S. roads, urban and rural. Subcategories include Local; Collectors (broken into Major and Minor); and Arterials (broken into Minor and Principal-that includes Interstates, Other Freeways and Expressways, and Other Principal Arterials). Source: FHWA Functional Classification Guidelines.

Source: FHWA Functional Classification Guidelines.

Public roads that are functionally classified higher than rural minor collector, rural local, or urban local are eligible for Federal-aid highway assistance. Although bridges follow the hierarchy scheme, they differ in several ways because NBI tracks bridges, while HPMS tracks highways. NBI makes no distinction between urban major and urban minor collectors as HPMS does. Important to note is that MAP-21 allows Federal-aid highway funding to be used on bridges that are not on the Federal-aid highways. States may use funding from their Surface Transportation Program apportionments to fund bridge projects not on Federal-aid highways.

How are collectors defined

Collectors serve the critical roles of gathering traffic from local roads and funneling vehicles into the arterial network. Although subtly different, two classifications are included in the collector category.

Major Collectorsare longer, have fewer points of access, have higher speed limits, and can have more travel lanes.

Minor Collectorsis the classification for collectors not classified as major collectors. One distinction between the two classifications is that minor collectors are focused more on access than on mobility.

Source: Highway Functional Classification Concepts, Criteria and Procedures 2013

System Characteristics

As stated earlier in this section, local governments own most of the Nation's highway mileage and bridges, due to the large amount of mileage classified as local roads that feed into larger facilities. Local governments tend to own shorter and less traveled roads. As shown in Exhibit 2-10, the highest share of the 2012 highway mileage was classified as local, with 49.9 percent in rural areas and 19.4 in urban areas. The share of 2012 VMT on roads classified as local, however, was only 4.4 percent in rural areas and 9.3 percent in urban areas.

Exhibit 2-10 Percentages of Highway Miles, Lane Miles, Vehicle Miles Traveled, Bridges, Bridge Deck Area, and Bridge Traffic by Functional System, 2012

Functional System Highway Miles Highway Lane Miles Highway VMT Bridges Bridge Deck Area Bridge Traffic Volume
Rural Areas (4,999 or less in population)
Interstate 0.7% 1.4% 8.2% 4.1% 6.9% 8.9%
Other Freeway and Expressway 0.1% 0.2% 0.7%
Other Principal Arterial 2.2% 2.8% 6.8%
Other Principal Arterial1 6.0% 8.9% 5.8%
Minor Arterial 3.3% 3.3% 5.0% 6.4% 6.1% 3.2%
Major Collector 10.3% 9.8% 5.9% 15.3% 9.1% 3.1%
Minor Collector 6.4% 6.1% 1.8% 7.9% 3.2% 0.8%
Local 49.9% 47.3% 4.4% 33.8% 9.4% 1.4%
Subtotal Rural Areas 72.9% 70.9% 32.8% 73.6% 43.6% 23.3%
Urban Areas (5,000 or more in population)
Interstate 0.5% 1.1% 16.5% 5.1% 19.4% 35.8%
Other Freeway and Expressway 0.2% 0.7% 7.5% 3.3% 10.8% 16.4%
Other Principal Arterial 1.6% 2.7% 15.4% 4.6% 11.4% 11.9%
Minor Arterial 2.6% 3.3% 12.5% 4.7% 7.5% 7.3%
Collector1 3.4% 3.5% 2.8%
Major Collector 2.8% 2.9% 5.9%
Minor Collector 0.0% 0.1% 0.1%
Local 19.4% 18.3% 9.3% 5.4% 3.8% 2.4%
Subtotal Urbanized Areas 27.1% 29.1% 67.2% 26.4% 56.4% 76.7%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

1 Highway data reflects revised HPMS functional classifications. Bridge data still uses the previous classifications, so that rural Other Freeway and Expressway is included as part of the rural Other Principal Arterial category, and urban Major Collector and urban Minor Collector are combined into a single urban Collector category.

Sources: Highway Performance Monitoring System; National Bridge Inventory.

Exhibit 2-10 also details the breakdown of travel occurring in rural and urban settings. Urban areas with populations greater than 5,000 have a higher share of VMT and lower highway mileage because urban settings tend to be more consolidated environments. With higher population concentrations, more vehicles use the highway mileage in urban areas. Alternatively, rural areas have a higher share of the highway mileage to provide connectivity between areas with lower population density.

How are local roads defined?

Local Roadsare any road not classified as an arterial or collector. They are not intended for use in long-distance travel, except at the origination or termination of a trip. Local roads are often designed to discourage through traffic.

Source: Highway Functional Classification Concepts, Criteria and Procedures 2013

Although Interstate highway mileage comprises only 1.2 percent of the Nation's highway mileage, it receives the Nation's highest share of VMT by classification at 24.7 percent . Interstate bridges also receive the highest share of bridge traffic volume by classification with 44.7 percent .

As shown in Exhibit 2-11, the Nation's public highways comprised nearly 4.11 million miles in 2012, up from 3.98 million miles in 2002. Total mileage in urban areas grew by an average annual rate of 2.2 percent between 2002 and 2012. Highway miles in rural areas, however, decreased at an average annual rate of 0.3 percent during the same period.

Exhibit 2-11 Highway Route Miles by Functional System, 2002—2012

Annual Rate of Change
2012/2002
Functional System 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012
Rural Areas (less than 5,000 in population)
Interstate 33,107 31,477 30,615 30,227 30,260 30,564 -0.8%
Other Freeway & Expressway1 3,299 4,395
Other Principal Arterial1 92,131 91,462
Other Principal Arterial1 98,945 95,998 95,009 95,002 -0.3%
Minor Arterial 137,855 135,683 135,589 135,256 135,681 135,328 -0.2%
Major Collector 431,754 420,293 419,289 418,473 418,848 419,353 -0.3%
Minor Collector 271,371 268,088 262,966 262,852 263,271 262,435 -0.3%
Local 2,106,725 2,051,902 2,046,796 2,038,517 2,036,990 2,039,276 -0.3%
Subtotal Rural Areas 3,079,757 3,003,441 2,990,264 2,980,327 2,980,480 2,982,813 -0.3%
Urban Areas (5,000 or more in population)
Interstate 13,640 15,359 16,277 16,789 16,922 17,150 2.3%
Other Freeway and Expressway 9,377 10,305 10,817 11,401 11,371 11,521 2.1%
Other Principal Arterial 53,680 60,088 63,180 64,948 65,505 65,593 2.0%
Minor Arterial 90,922 98,447 103,678 107,182 108,375 109,337 1.9%
Collector1 89,846 103,387 109,639 115,087 3.0%
Major Collector1 115,538 116,943
Minor Collector1 3,303 3,588
Local 644,449 706,436 738,156 763,618 782,273 802,473 2.2%
Subtotal Urban Areas 901,913 994,021 1,041,747 1,079,025 1,103,288 1,126,605 2.2%
Total Highway Route Miles 3,981,670 3,997,462 4,032,011 4,059,352 4,083,768 4,109,418 0.3%

1 Starting in 2010, the HPMS data reflect revised functional classifications. Rural Other Freeway and Expressway has been split from the rural Other Principal Arterial category, and urban Collector has been split into urban Major Collector and urban Minor Collector. The annual rate of change was computed based on the older combined categories.

Source: Highway Performance Monitoring System.

In addition to the construction of new roads, two factors have continued to contribute to the increase in urban highway mileage. First, based on the decennial census, more people are living in urban areas, and thus urban boundaries have expanded. This expansion has resulted in the reclassification of some mileage from rural to urban. States have implemented these boundary changes in their HPMS data reporting gradually. As a result, the impact of the census-based changes on these statistics is not confined to a single year. Second, greater focus has been placed on Federal agencies to provide a more complete reporting of federally owned mileage.

Exhibit 2-12 details lane mileage by functional system and population size. Lane mileage represents the length of the roadway multiplied by the number of lanes on that roadway. Because 72.9 percent of the Nation's highway mileage is located in rural areas, lane mileage is also higher in rural areas. Local roads in urban and rural settings also continue to have the highest share of the Nation's lane mileage. Lane mileage in urban areas increased 2.3 percent between 2002 and 2012, while lane mileage in rural areas decreased 0.3 percent during the same period.

Exhibit 2-12 Highway Lane Miles by Functional System, 2002—2012

Functional System Highway Lane Miles Annual Rate of Change
2012/2002
2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012
Rural Areas (less than 5,000 in population)
Interstate 135,032 128,012 124,506 122,956 123,762 124,927 -0.8%
Other Freeway and Expressway1 11,907 16,593
Other Principal Arterial1 243,065 240,639
Other Principal Arterial1 256,458 249,480 248,334 250,153 0.03%
Minor Arterial 288,391 283,173 282,397 281,071 287,761 281,660 -0.2%
Major Collector 868,977 845,513 843,262 841,353 857,091 842,722 -0.3%
Minor Collector 542,739 536,177 525,932 525,705 526,540 524,870 -0.3%
Local 4,213,448 4,103,804 4,093,592 4,077,032 4,073,980 4,078,552 -0.3%
Subtotal Rural Areas 6,305,044 6,146,159 6,118,023 6,098,270 6,124,107 6,109,963 -0.3%
Urban Areas (5,000 or more in population)
Interstate 75,864 84,016 89,036 91,924 93,403 95,197 2.3%
Other Freeway and Expressway 43,467 47,770 50,205 53,073 53,231 54,160 2.2%
Other Principal Arterial 188,525 210,506 221,622 228,792 235,127 234,469 2.2%
Minor Arterial 233,194 250,769 269,912 274,225 285,954 283,608 2.0%
Collector1 192,115 220,177 235,240 245,262 3.0%
Major Collector1 252,435 250,760
Minor Collector1 7,404 7,948
Local 1,288,898 1,412,872 1,476,314 1,527,230 1,564,546 1,604,946 2.2%
Subtotal Urban Areas 2,022,064 2,226,111 2,342,329 2,420,506 2,492,099 2,531,088 2.3%
Total Highway Lane Miles 8,327,108 8,372,270 8,460,352 8,518,776 8,616,206 8,641,051 0.4%

1 Starting in 2010, the HPMS data reflects revised functional classifications. Rural Other Freeway and Expressway has been split from the rural Other Principal Arterial category, and urban Collector has been split into urban Major Collector and urban Minor Collector. The annual rate of change was computed based on the older combined categories.

Source: Highway Performance Monitoring System.

Highway Travel by Functional Classification

With regard to VMT and individual functional classifications, rural and urban areas also differ. Exhibit 2-13 details VMT trends by functional classification between 2002 and 2012. Urban area VMT increased 1.4 percent in that span, while rural area VMT decreased 1.5 percent . Interstate with Other Freeway and Expressway in urban areas had the biggest increase of VMT share with 1.7 percent . Major collectors in rural areas had the greatest decrease of VMT share at 2.0 percent . VMT in 2012 was more than 2.98 trillion, a 0.4-percent increase from the 2.87 trillion VMT in 2002.

Exhibit 2-13 Vehicle Miles Traveled by Functional System, 2002—2012

Functional System Annual Travel Distance (Millions of Miles) Annual Rate of Change
2012/2002
2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012
Rural Areas (less than 5,000 in population)
Interstate 281,461 267,397 258,324 243,693 246,109 246,334 -1.3%
Other Freeway & Expressway1 19,603 20,146
Other Principal Arterial1 205,961 203,310
Other Principal Arterial1 258,009 241,282 232,224 222,555 -1.4%
Minor Arterial 177,139 169,168 162,889 152,246 151,307 148,956 -1.7%
Major Collector 214,463 200,926 193,423 186,275 176,301 175,838 -2.0%
Minor Collector 62,144 60,278 58,229 55,164 53,339 53,215 -1.5%
Local 139,892 132,474 133,378 131,796 132,827 130,124 -0.7%
Subtotal Rural Areas 1,133,107 1,071,524 1,038,467 991,729 985,447 977,923 -1.5%
Urban Areas (5,000 or more in population)
Interstate 412,481 459,767 482,677 481,520 482,726 489,580 1.7%
Other Freeway and Expressway 190,641 209,084 218,411 223,837 221,902 225,098 1.7%
Other Principal Arterial 410,926 453,868 470,423 465,965 460,753 460,302 1.1%
Minor Arterial 341,958 365,807 380,069 380,734 378,048 374,915 0.9%
Collector1 143,621 164,330 175,516 177,665 -0.7%
Major Collector1 178,909 177,217
Minor Collector1 3,837 4,476
Local 241,721 257,617 268,394 271,329 273,474 277,892 1.4%
Subtotal Urban Areas 1,741,348 1,910,473 1,995,489 2,001,050 1,999,648 2,009,480 1.4%
Total VMT 2,874,455 2,981,998 3,033,957 2,992,779 2,985,095 2,987,403 0.4%

1 Starting in 2010, the HPMS data reflects revised functional classifications. Rural Other Freeway and Expressway has been split from the rural Other Principal Arterial category, and urban Collector has been split into urban Major Collector and urban Minor Collector. The annual rate of change was computed based on the older combined categories.

Source: Highway Performance Monitoring System.

Exhibit 2-14 provides an analysis of the types of vehicles comprising the Nation's VMT between 2008 and 2012. Three types of vehicles are identified: passenger vehicles, which include motorcycles, buses, and light trucks (two-axle, four-tire models); single-unit trucks having six or more tires; and combination trucks, including trailers and semitrailers. Passenger vehicle travel accounted for 91.0 percent of total VMT in 2012; combination trucks accounted for 5.5 percent of VMT during this period; and single-unit trucks accounted for the remaining 3.5 percent. The share of truck travel on the rural interstates is considerably higher; in 2012, single-unit and combination trucks together accounted for 23.6 percent of total VMT on the rural Interstates.

Passenger vehicle travel grew at an average annual rate of 0.3 percent from 2008 to 2012. Over the same period, combination truck traffic declined by 2.9 percent per year, and single-unit truck traffic declined by 4.6 percent per year. The decrease in combination truck traffic occurred mostly in urban areas; single-unit truck traffic decreased in both rural and urban areas, but the change was more pronounced in urban areas. Direct comparisons over a longer period cannot be made due to significant revisions to the methodology for estimating vehicle distribution implemented in 2007.

Exhibit 2-14 Highway Travel by Functional System and Vehicle Type, 2008—20121,2

Functional System Vehicle Type 2008 2010 2012 Annual Rate of Change
2012/2008
Rural
Interstate
Passenger Vehicles 181,278 185,212 187,932 0.9%
Single-Unit Trucks 11,970 11,206 9,249 -6.2%
Combination Trucks 49,973 49,229 48,691 -0.6%
Other Arterial
Passenger Vehicles 322,288 324,467 325,071 0.2%
Single-Unit Trucks 20,176 18,922 17,194 -3.9%
Combination Trucks 31,771 33,023 29,689 -1.7%
Other Rural
Passenger Vehicles 335,206 327,748 326,522 -0.7%
Single-Unit Trucks 19,286 18,059 17,961 -1.8%
Combination Trucks 16,287 16,281 14,316 -3.2%
Total Rural
Passenger Vehicles 838,772 837,428 839,525 0.0%
Single-Unit Trucks 51,431 48,188 44,404 -3.6%
Combination Trucks 98,031 98,532 92,696 -1.4%
Urban
Interstate
Passenger Vehicles 423,699 427,395 434,394 0.6%
Single-Unit Trucks 16,752 14,485 14,539 -3.5%
Combination Trucks 35,663 35,812 35,614 -0.03%
Other Urban
Passenger Vehicles 1,403,376 1,415,087 1,426,578 0.4%
Single-Unit Trucks 58,672 48,001 46,018 -5.9%
Combination Trucks 50,131 41,567 35,047 -8.6%
Total Urban
Passenger Vehicles 1,827,075 1,842,482 1,860,972 0.5%
Single-Unit Trucks 75,423 62,486 60,557 -5.3%
Combination Trucks 85,794 77,379 70,662 -4.7%
Total
Passenger Vehicles 2,665,848 2,679,910 2,700,497 0.3%
Single-Unit Trucks 126,855 110,674 104,961 -4.6%
Combination Trucks 183,826 175,911 163,358 -2.9%

1 Data do not include Puerto Rico.

2 The procedures used to develop estimates of travel by vehicle type have been significantly revised; the data available do not support direct comparisons prior to 2007.

Source: Highway Statistics, various years, Table VM-1.

Bridges by Functional Classification

The Nation's bridges help travelers traverse what would be geographical challenges. Bridges help provide travelers a more direct route to their destination. These direct routes help move passengers and goods efficiently, benefiting the Nation's economic productivity and output.

Exhibit 2-15 presents the number of bridges by functional classification between 2002 and 2012. These bridges are identified by NBI and are at least 20 feet long. The number of bridges increased 0.3 percent from 591,243 to 607,380. Less than three-quarters of the Nation's bridges are located in rural areas with most classified as local. The annual rate of change of bridge numbers in rural areas between 2002 and 2012 decreased 0.2 percent . Bridges in urban areas have increased 1.7 percent in the same period, with the largest increase occurring on urban collectors (3.1 percent).

Exhibit 2-15 Number of Bridges by Functional System, 2002—2012

Functional System 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 Annual Rate of Change
2012/2002
Rural
Interstate 27,310 27,648 26,633 25,997 25,223 25,201 -0.8%
Other Principal Arterial 35,215 36,258 35,766 35,594 36,084 36,460 0.3%
Minor Arterial 39,571 40,197 39,521 39,079 39,048 39,123 -0.1%
Major Collector 94,766 94,079 93,609 93,118 93,059 92,875 -0.2%
Minor Collector 49,309 49,391 48,639 48,242 47,866 47,922 -0.3%
Local 209,358 208,641 207,130 205,959 205,609 205,192 -0.2%
Subtotal Rural 455,529 456,214 451,298 447,989 446,889 446,773 -0.2%
Urban
Interstate 27,924 27,667 28,637 29,629 30,116 30,758 1.0%
Other Freeway and Expressway 16,843 17,112 17,988 19,168 19,791 20,139 1.8%
Other Principal Arterial 24,301 24,529 26,051 26,934 27,373 28,141 1.5%
Minor Arterial 24,510 24,802 26,239 27,561 28,103 28,437 1.5%
Collectors 15,169 15,548 17,618 18,932 20,311 20,590 3.1%
Local 26,592 27,940 29,508 31,183 31,877 32,540 2.0%
Subtotal Urban 135,339 137,598 146,041 153,407 157,571 160,605 1.7%
Unclassified 375 288 222 110 33 2
Total 591,243 594,100 597,561 601,506 604,493 607,380 0.3%
Source: National Bridge Inventory.
NHS by Functional Classification

As noted earlier in this section, most of the Nation's road mileage is located outside the NHS and on highways other than Federal-aid highways. As shown in Exhibit 2-16, 5.4 percent of the Nation's road mileage is on the NHS, while only 8.9 percent of the Nation's lane mileage is located on the NHS. Of the Nation's VMT, however, 55.0 percent occurs on the NHS.

The highest share of VMT on the NHS occurs on urban area Interstate facilities and urban area other principal arterials. This observation suggests that a substantial portion of the Nation's VMT occurs during morning and afternoon commutes to urban centers. In rural areas, the highest share of VMT also occurs on Interstate and other principal arterials systems.

The NHS encompasses all of the Interstate System and almost all of the facilities classified as other freeway and expressway, and other principal arterial. Local road mileage and other mileage classified lower than principal arterial represent NHS intermodal connectors.

Exhibit 2-16 Highway Route Miles, Lane Miles, and Vehicle Miles Traveled on the National Highway System Compared with All Roads, by Functional System, 20121

Functional System Route Miles Lane Miles VMT (Millions)
Total on NHS percent on NHS Total on NHS percent on NHS Total on NHS percent on NHS
Rural NHS
Interstate 30,564 100.0% 124,927 100.0% 246,334 100.0%
Other Freeway and Expressway 4,284 97.5% 16,547 99.7% 20,115 99.8%
Other Principal Arterial 91,181 99.7% 239,899 99.7% 202,580 99.6%
Minor Arterial 2,630 1.9% 6,426 2.3% 4,839 3.2%
Major Collector 662 0.2% 1,439 0.2% 1,055 0.6%
Minor Collector 5 0.002% 9 0.002% 2 0.004%
Local 38 0.002% 77 0.002% 15 0.01%
Subtotal Rural NHS 129,364 4.3% 389,324 6.4% 474,940 48.6%
Urban NHS
Interstate 17,149 100.0% 95,194 100.0% 489,580 100.0%
Other Freeway and Expressway 11,404 99.0% 53,665 99.1% 223,353 99.2%
Other Principal Arterial 63,407 96.7% 227,208 96.9% 448,105 97.4%
Minor Arterial 1,439 1.3% 4,541 1.6% 7,086 1.9%
Major Collector 384 0.3% 990 0.4% 1,018 0.6%
Minor Collector 9 0.3% 20 0.3% 9 0.2%
Local 101 0.01% 242 0.02% 137 0.05%
Subtotal Urban NHS 93,893 8.3% 381,860 15.1% 1,169,288 58.2%
Total NHS 223,257 5.4% 771,184 8.9% 1,644,228 55.0%

1 Data reflect the expansion of the NHS required by MAP-21.

Source: Highway Performance Monitoring System.

Transit System Characteristics

System History

The first transit systems in the United States date to the late 19th century. These systems were privately owned, for-profit businesses that were instrumental in defining the urban communities of that time. By the postwar period, competition from the private automobile was preventing transit businesses from operating at a profit. As transit businesses started to fail, local, State, and national government leaders began to realize the importance of sustaining transit services. In 1964, Congress passed the Urban Mass Transportation Act, establishing the Urban Mass Transit Agency to administer Federal funding for transit systems. The Act changed the character of the industry by specifying that Federal funds for transit be given to public agencies rather than private firms; this funding shift accelerated the transition from private to public ownership and operation of transit systems. The Act also required local governments to contribute matching funds as a condition for receiving Federal aid for transit services-setting the stage for the multilevel governmental partnerships that characterize today's transit industry.

State government involvement in the provision of transit services is usually through financial support and performance oversight. Some States, however, have undertaken outright ownership and operation of transit services. Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Washington, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico directly own and operate transit systems. Pennsylvania contracts for transit services. New Jersey Transit, a statewide company, and numerous private fixed-route bus systems operate the State's transit services. New Jersey Transit provides buses to private bus systems but is not involved with their operations or oversight.

In 1962, Congress passed legislation requiring the formation of metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) for urbanized areas with populations greater than 50,000. MPOs are composed of State and local officials who work to address transportation planning needs of urbanized areas at a regional level. Twenty-nine years later, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) made MPO coordination a prerequisite for Federal funding of many transit projects.

In addition, the ISTEA reauthorization made several other changes to transportation law, including changing the name of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). On the urban side, ISTEA increased transit formula grant funding to all agencies and initiated the use of a formula to allocate capital funds, rather than determine funding allocation on a discretionary project basis. The Act also increased the flexibility in using Highway Trust funds between transit and highway projects.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) was passed in 1998 and over the next 6 years increased transit funding by 70 percent . Part of this additional funding was to offset the increased costs of implementing service for persons with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The ADA required public transit services to be open to the public without discrimination and to meet all other requirements of the Act. The ADA also further increased the flexibility in the use of Federal funds.

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was enacted in 2005. This Act created some new programs-especially for smaller transit providers-and new program definitions. Within the urban formula program, a new formula allocation was added for Small Transit Intensive Cities (STIC). In the new starts program, a Small Starts program was created, encouraging cost-effective alternative approaches to transit projects such as bus rapid transit, rather than more expensive rail systems. In the rural (other than urbanized area) program, funding was greatly increased for rural transit providers, intercity fixed-route bus transportation became eligible for rural funds, and funds were made available for Native American Tribal transit. SAFETEA-LU also made funding available for parks and public lands. SAFETEA-LU extension acts were continued until July 2012.

On July 6, 2012, Congress passed the new Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP21) reauthorization act, covering Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014. MAP21 is the current law. The law retained the basic structure of the urban formula program, but increased the STIC formula funding and allowed certain smaller systems (100 fixed-route buses or fewer) in large urban systems to use some formula funds for operating expense. MAP21 also added a new factor: the number of low-income individuals. The Act gave FTA safety oversight authority and set aside funds for FTA to create an office for administering a safety oversight program for public transit. Funds for the rural program are to be allocated as in the past, but a service factor-vehicle revenue miles-and a factor for low-income individuals were added to the formula allocation factors. Funds for Tribal transit were increased, and some funds were distributed by a new formula based in part on vehicle revenue miles. The most dramatic change, however, was the elimination of the Fixed-Guideway Modernization capital program and the creation of the new, formula-based State of Good Repair program in its place. The State of Good Repair program would dedicate capital funds to the repair, upgrading, and modernization of the Nation's transit fixed-guideway infrastructure. This fixed-guideway infrastructure would include the Nation's rail transit systems, high-intensity motor bus systems operating on HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes, ferries, and bus rapid transit systems. The Act requires transit agencies to develop a capital asset report that inventories their capital assets and evaluates the condition of those assets.

System Infrastructure

Urban Transit Agencies

State and local transit agencies have evolved into several different institutional models. A transit provider can be a unit of a regional transportation agency; operated directly by the State, county, or city government; or an independent agency with an elected or appointed Board of Governors. Transit operators can provide service directly with their own equipment or they might purchase transit services through an agreement with a contractor.

In 2012, 725 reporters in urbanized areas submitted data to the National Transit Database (NTD). Five agencies were consolidated entities reporting on behalf of 80 transit providers. Thus, the total number of urban providers was 800. Of the 725 reporters, 697 were public agencies, including 369 city, county, or local government transportation units or departments, 250 independent public authorities or agencies for transit service, and 8 State Departments of Transportation (DOTs). The remaining 28 agencies were either private operators or independent agencies (e.g., for-profit organizations, nonprofit organizations, and Indian Tribes).

All transit providers that receive funds from FTA must report to NTD. In the past, small systems operating fewer than nine vehicles could request a reporting exemption; however, all small systems are now required to submit a simplified report to NTD each year. This small-system reporting waiver was granted to 213 agencies having fewer than 30 vehicles in maximum service and not operating fixed-guideway service.

Of the 512 agencies that reported providing service on 1,282 separate modal networks, all but 107 operated more than one mode. In 2012, an additional 1,703 transit operators were serving rural areas. Some agencies that do not have a reporting requirement to NTD will choose to submit a report because doing so can help their region receive additional Federal transit funding.

Urbanized Areas (UZA) witd Population over 1 Million in 2010 Census

UZA Rank UZA Name 2010 Population 2012 Unlinked Transit Trips (in Thousands)
1 New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT 18,351,295 4,181,730
2 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 12,150,996 671,381
3 Chicago, IL-IN 8,608,208 663,752
4 Miami, FL 5,502,379 166,350
5 Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD 5,441,567 386,746
6 Dallas-Fort Wortd-Arlington, TX 5,121,892 79,377
7 Houston, TX 4,944,332 81,381
8 Washington, DC-VA-MD 4,586,770 485,448
9 Atlanta, GA 4,515,419 144,090
10 Boston, MA-NH-RI 4,181,019 409,749
11 Detroit, MI 3,734,090 47,954
12 Phoenix-Mesa, AZ 3,629,114 72,195
13 San Francisco-Oakland, CA 3,281,212 435,867
14 Seattle, WA 3,059,393 196,767
15 San Diego, CA 2,956,746 102,851
16 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI 2,650,890 93,864
17 Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL 2,441,770 30,025
18 Denver-Aurora, CO 2,374,203 98,716
19 Baltimore, MD 2,203,663 112,927
20 St. Louis, MO-IL 2,150,706 49,559
21 San Juan, PR 2,148,346 59,964
22 Riverside-San Bernardino, CA 1,932,666 25,342
23 Las Vegas-Henderson, NV 1,886,011 65,145
24 Portland, OR-WA 1,849,898 114,196
25 Cleveland, OH 1,780,673 49,139
26 San Antonio, TX 1,758,210 50,804
27 Pittsburgh, PA 1,733,853 67,770
28 Sacramento, CA 1,723,634 30,971
29 San Jose, CA 1,664,496 43,487
30 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 1,624,827 21,479
31 Kansas City, MO-KS 1,519,417 17,453
32 Orlando, FL 1,510,516 29,250
33 Indianapolis, IN 1,487,483 10,328
34 Virginia Beach, VA 1,439,666 18,460
35 Milwaukee, WI 1,376,476 47,423
36 Columbus, OH 1,368,035 18,763
37 Austin, TX 1,362,416 35,660
38 Charlotte, NC-SC 1,249,442 28,794
39 Providence, RI-MA 1,190,956 21,611
40 Jacksonville, FL 1,065,219 12,706
41 Memphis, TN-MS-AR 1,060,061 10,035
42 Salt Lake City-West Valley City, UT 1,021,243 42,366
Total 135,639,208 9,331,875

The Nation's fixed-route bus and demand-response systems are much more extensive than the Nation's rail transit system. Bus fixed-route service includes three distinct modes: regular fixed-route bus, commuter bus, and bus rapid transit.

In 2012, 661 agencies reported fixed-route bus service, including 619 regular bus systems, 67 commuter bus systems, and 10 bus rapid transit systems. Some agencies operate more than one type of fixed-route bus, and so the sum of the three types does not equal the number of agencies operating these systems.

Transit agencies reported 629 demand-response systems (not including demand-response taxi) in urban areas, 18 heavy rail systems, 29 commuter rail systems, 4 hybrid rail systems, 25 light rail systems, and 17 street car systems (some of which are not yet in service).

The number of fixed-route bus systems is greater than the number of demand-response systems because in some urban areas a single, consolidated entity operates paratransit service, while more than one agency provides fixed-route service.

Although every major urbanized area in the United States has fixed-route bus and demand-response systems, 35 urbanized areas were served by at least one of the three primary rail modes, including 20 by commuter rail, 22 by light rail, and 12 by heavy rail. Exhibit 2-17 depicts the number of passenger cars for each rail mode by urbanized area.

Exhibit 2-17 Rail Modes Serving Urbanized Areas

Uza Rank Urbanized Area Commuter Rail Vehicles Heavy Rail Vehicles Light Rail Vehicles Streetcar Vehicles Hybrid Rail Vehicles Total Rail Vehicles
1 New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT 3,441 5,598 56 - 15 9,110
2 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 172 70 140 - - 382
3 Chicago, IL-IN 1,114 1,070 - - - 2,184
4 Miami, FL 40 76 - - - 116
5 Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD 347 369 - 126 - 842
6 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 23 - 100 - - 123
7 Houston, TX - - 18 - - 18
8 Washington, DC-VA-MD 87 868 - - - 955
9 Atlanta, GA - 182 - - - 182
10 Boston, MA-NH-RI 416 336 144 - - 896
12 Phoenix-Mesa, AZ - - 26 - - 26
13 San Francisco-Oakland, CA 100 534 131 24 - 789
14 Seattle, WA 56 - 26 5 - 87
15 San Diego, CA 24 - 95 - 8 127
16 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI 22 - 27 - - 49
17 Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL - - - 3 - 3
18 Denver-Aurora, CO - - 102 - - 102
19 Baltimore, MD 132 54 38 - - 224
20 St. Louis, MO-IL - - 58 - - 58
21 San Juan, PR - 32 - - - 32
24 Portland, OR-WA - - 104 7 4 115
25 Cleveland, OH - 20 13 - - 33
27 Pittsburgh, PA - - 56 - - 56
28 Sacramento, CA - - 61 - - 61
29 San Jose, CA - - 55 - - 55
34 Virginia Beach, VA - - 7 - - 7
37 Austin, TX - - - - 4 4
38 Charlotte, NC-SC - - 14 - - 14
41 Memphis, TN-MS-AR - - - 10 - 10
42 Salt Lake City-West Valley City, UT 36 - 82 - - 118
44 Nashville-Davidson, TN 7 - - - - 7
46 Buffalo, NY - - 23 - - 23
47 Hartford, CT 28 - - - - 28
49 New Orleans, LA - - - 21 - 21
56 Albuquerque, NM 25 - - - - 25
88 Little Rock, AR - - - 3 - 3
102 Stockton, CA 18 - - - - 18
104 Denton-Lewisville, TX 8 - - - - 8
177 Portland, ME 14 - - - - 14
256 Kenosha, WI-IL - - - 1 - 1
Grand Total 6,110 9,209 1,376 200 31 16,926
Source: National Transit Database.

In addition to fixed-route bus systems, demand-response systems, and rail modes, 74 publicly operated transit vanpool systems, 23 ferryboat systems, 5 trolleybus systems, 8 monorail/automated guideway systems, 3 inclined plane systems, 1 cable car system, and 1 Público were operating in urbanized areas of the United States and its territories.

The transit statistics presented in this report include those for the San Francisco Cable Car, Seattle Monorail, Roosevelt Island Aerial Tramway in New York, and Alaska Railroad (a long-distance passenger rail system included as public transportation by statutory exemption).

Transit Fleet

Exhibit 2-18 provides an overview of the Nation's 199,639 transit vehicles in 2012 by type of vehicle and size of urbanized area. Although some types of vehicles are specific to certain modes, many vehicles-particularly small buses and vans-are used by several different transit modes. For example, vans are used to provide vanpool, demand-response, Público, or fixed-route bus services. The limited classification options for vehicle type in NTD can make classifying smaller vehicles difficult.

Exhibit 2-18 Transit Active Fleet by Vehicle Type, 20121,2

A stacked horizontal bar chart shows the distribution of fleet vehicles in nine categories for two sizes of urban areas: areas with a population of less than 1 million and areas with a population of more than 1 million. Categories with fewer than 10,000 total vehicles include light rail/streetcars, demand taxi, other regular vehicles, and commuter rail with 2,250, 6,504, 7,145, and 7,338 vehicles, predominately in the higher population areas. The category with just over 10,000 total vehicles include heavy rail vehicles with 11,422 vehicles, all in areas with over 1 million population. The category rural service regular vehicles has a count of 22,225 vehicles, all in areas with under 1 million population. The category vans has a total count of 27,235 vehicles, with 18,468 in areas with more than 1 million population and 8,767 in areas with less than 1 million population. The category special service vehicles has a total count of 37,720 vehicles, with 10,107 in  areas with more than 1 million population and 27,613 in areas with less than 1 million population. The category fixed-route buses has a total count of 77,800 vehicles, with 54,374 in areas with more than 1 million population and 23,426 in areas with less than 1 million population. Source: National Transit Database.

1Vehicle types: "Demand Taxi" includes taxicab sedan, taxicab station wagon, and taxicab vans. "Other Regular Vehicles" includes aerial tramway vehicles, Alaska railroad vehicles, automated guideway vehicles, automobiles, cable cars, ferryboats, inclined plane vehicles, jitneys, Públicos, and trolleybuses. "Commuter Rail" includes commuter rail locomotives, commuter rail passenger coaches, and commuter rail self-propelled passenger cars. "Fixed-Route Buses" includes articulated buses, double-decker buses, school buses, and over-the-road buses.

2Source for "Special Service Vehicles" is the FTA, Fiscal Year Trends Report on the Use of Section 5310, Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities program funds, 2002.

Source: National Transit Database.

Exhibit 2-19 Composition of Urban Transit Road Vehicle Fleet, 2012

A bar chart shows distribution of urban transit fleet across five vehicle categories. The category vans has 28,193 vehicles and accounts for 25.9 percent of the fleet. The category articulated buses has 5,043 vehicles and accounts for 4.6 percent of the fleet. The category full-size buses has 44,906 vehicles and accounts for 41.2 percent of the fleet. The category mid-size buses has 7,077 vehicles and accounts for 6.5 percent of the fleet. The category small buses has 23,793 vehicles and accounts for 21.8 percent of the fleet. Source: Transit Economic Requirements Model and National Transit Database.

Source: Transit Economic Requirements Model and National Transit Database.

Exhibit 2-19 shows the composition of the Nation's urban transit road vehicle fleet in 2012. More than one-third of these vehicles, or 41 percent , are full-sized motor buses. Additional information on trends in the number and condition of vehicles over time is included in Chapter 3. Vans, as presented here, are the familiar 10-seat passenger vans. Articulated buses are the long vehicles articulated for better maneuverability on city streets. Full-sized buses are the standard 40-foot, 40-seat city buses. Mid-sized buses are in the 30-foot, 30-seat range. Small buses, typically built on truck chassis ("cutaways"), are shorter and seat around 20 people.

Exhibit 2-20 Maintenance Facilities for Directly Operated Services, 2012

Maintenance Facility Type1 Population Category
Over 1 Million Under 1 Million Total
Heavy Rail 59 0 59
Commuter Rail 46 0 46
Light Rail 35 1 36
Streetcar Rail 9 2 11
Other Rail2 4 5 9
Fixed-Route Bus 305 281 586
Commuter Bus 24 6 30
Bus Rapid Transit 2 0 3
Demand Response 52 116 168
Vanpool 5 5 9
Ferryboat 8 1 9
Trolleybus 4 1 5
Total Urban Maintenance Facilities 553 418 971
Rural Transit3 727 727
Total Maintenance Facilities 553 1,145 1,698

1 Includes owned and leased facilities.

2 Alaska railroad, automated guideway, cable car, inclined plane, and monorail.

3 Vehicles owned by operators receiving funding from FTA as directed by 49 USC Section 5311. These funds are for transit services in areas with populations of less than 50,000 (Section 5311, Status of Rural Public Transportation, 2000; Community Transportation Association of America, April 2001).

Source: National Transit Database.
Track, Stations, and Maintenance Facilities

Maintenance facility counts are broken down by mode and by size of urbanized area for directly operated service in Exhibit 2-20. Modes such as hybrid rail, demand-response taxi, and Público are not included because all service is purchased. Chapter 3 includes data on the age and condition of these facilities.

A single facility can be used by more than one mode. In these cases, the count of facilities is prorated based on the number of peak vehicles for each mode.

As Exhibit 2-21 shows, transit providers operated 12,617 miles of track and served 3,281 stations in 2012. The Nation's rail system mileage is dominated by the longer distances generally covered by commuter rail. Light and heavy rail typically operate in more densely developed areas and have more stations per track mile.

Exhibit 2-21 Transit Rail Mileage and Stations, 2012

Urbanized Area Track Mileage
Heavy Rail 2,274
Commuter Rail 7,738
Light Rail 1,419
Hybrid Rail 173
Streetcar Rail 286
Other Rail and Tramway1 728
Total Urbanized Area Track Mileage 12,617
Urbanized Area Transit Rail Stations Count
Heavy Rail 1,044
Commuter Rail 1,234
Light Rail 794
Hybrid Rail 49
Streetcar Rail 85
Other Rail and Tramway1 75
Total Urbanized Area Transit Rail Stations 3,281
1 Includes Alaska railroad, automated guideway, cable car, inclined plane, monorail, and aerial tramway. Source: National Transit Database.

Rural Transit Systems (Section 5311 Providers)

The FTA first instituted rural data reporting to NTD in 2006. In 2012, 1,703 transit operators reported providing rural service; additionally, 235 urban agencies reported providing rural service. Together, these agencies reported 518 million unlinked passenger trips and 625 million vehicle revenue miles. These data include the more than 2 million unlinked passenger trips that 124 Indian Tribes provided. Rural systems provide both traditional fixed-route bus and demand-response services, with 1,108 demand-response services, 56 demand taxi services, 60 commuter bus services, 6 ferryboat services, 515 fixed-route bus services, and 21 vanpool services. They reported 22,225 vehicles in 2012. Exhibit 2-22 shows the number of rural transit vehicles in service in 2010 and 2012.

Exhibit 2-22 Rural Transit Vehicles, 2010 and 20121

A horizontal bar chart shows the distribution of rural transit vehicles across six categories for 2010 and 2012. In 2010, the category small bus accounts for 10,621 vehicles; van accounts for 4,459 vehicles; fixed-route bus accounts for 3,907 vehicles; minivan accounts for 3,422 vehicles; auto accounts for 420 vehicles; and other accounts for 307 vehicles. In 2012, the category small bus accounts for 10,668 vehicles; van accounts for 3,993 vehicles; fixed-route bus accounts for 3,309 vehicles; minivan accounts for 3,521 vehicles; auto accounts for 359 vehicles; and other accounts for 375 vehicles. Source: National Transit Database.

1Other includes ferryboat, over-the-road bus, school bus, sport utility vehicle, and other similar vehicles.

Source: National Transit Database.

Transit System Characteristics for Americans with Disabilities and the Elderly

The ADA is intended to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to the same facilities and services as other Americans, including transit vehicles and facilities. This equality of access is brought about by upgrading transit vehicles and facilities on regular routes, providing demand-response transit service for those individuals who still cannot use regular transit service, and operating special service vehicles by private entities and some public organizations, often with the assistance of FTA funding.

The overall percentage of transit vehicles that are ADA compliant has not significantly changed in recent years. In 2012, 77.6 percent of all transit vehicles reported in NTD were ADA compliant. Although this percentage has decreased slightly from 79.3 percent in 2010, it has increased substantially from the 73.3 percent reported for 2000. The percentage of vehicles compliant with the ADA for each mode is shown in Exhibit 2-23.

Exhibit 2-23 Urban Transit Operators' ADA Vehicle Fleets by Mode, 2012

Transit Mode Active Vehicles ADA-Compliant Vehicles Percentage of Active Vehicles that are ADA Compliant
Rail
Heavy Rail 11,422 10,988 96.2%
Commuter Rail 7,263 3,960 54.5%
Light Rail 1,981 1,826 92.2%
Alaska Railroad 63 23 36.5%
Automated Guideway/Monorail 156 156 100.0%
Cable Car 38 0 0.0%
Inclined Plane 8 6 75.0%
Hybrid Rail 44 24 54.5%
Streetcar 316 100 31.6%
Total Rail 21,291 17,083 80.2%
Nonrail
Fixed-Route Bus 62,204 61,524 98.9%
Demand Response 30,846 26,013 84.3%
Vanpool 13,537 144 1.1%
Ferryboat 145 118 81.4%
Trolleybus 572 572 100.0%
Público 2,873 0 0.0%
Bus Rapid Transit 90 90 100.0%
Commuter Bus 1,994 1,928 96.7%
Demand Response Taxi 6,142 895 14.6%
Total Nonrail 118,403 91,284 77.1%
Total All Modes 139,694 108,367 77.6%
Source: National Transit Database.

In addition to the services urban and rural transit operators provide, the most recent American Public Transportation Association fact book indicates that approximately 4,800 nonprofit providers operate in rural and urban areas. These providers are eligible to receive funding from FTA for Transportation for Persons with Disabilities and the Elderly. This funding supports "special" transit services (i.e., demand-response). Nonprofit providers include religious organizations, senior citizen centers, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, community action centers, sheltered workshops, and coordinated human services transportation providers.

The ADA requires that new transit facilities and alterations to existing facilities be accessible to the disabled. In 2012, 78.7 percent of total transit stations were ADA compliant, an increase from the 76.0 percent compliant in 2010. Earlier data for this parameter might not be comparable to data provided in this current report due to improvements in reporting quality. Exhibit 2-24 presents the number of urban transit ADA stations and percentage of total stations by mode.

Exhibit 2-24 Urban Transit Operators' ADA-Compliant Stations by Mode, 2012

Transit Mode Total Stations ADA-Compliant Stations Percentage of Stations that are ADA Compliant
Rail
Heavy Rail 1,044 542 51.9%
Commuter Rail 1,234 822 66.6%
Light Rail 794 725 91.3%
Alaska Railroad 10 10 100.0%
Automated Guideway/ Monorail 57 56 98.2%
Inclined Plane 8 7 87.5%
Hybrid Rail 49 49 100.0%
Street Car 85 41 48.2%
Total Rail 3,281 2,252 68.6%
Nonrail
Fixed-Route Bus 1,355 1,337 98.7%
Ferryboat 94 89 94.7%
Trolleybus 5 5 100.0%
Bus Rapid Transit 7 7 100.0%
Commuter Bus 195 195 100.0%
Total Nonrail 1,656 1,633 98.6%
Total All Modes 4,937 3,885 78.7%
Source: National Transit Database.

Under the ADA, FTA was given responsibility for identifying key rail stations and facilitating the accessibility of these stations to disabled persons by July 26, 1993. Rail stations identified as "key" have the following characteristics:

  • The number of passengers boarding exceeds the average number of passengers boarding on the rail system as a whole by at least 15 percent .
  • The station is a major point where passengers shift to other transit modes.
  • The station is at the end of a rail line, unless it is close to another accessible station.
  • The station serves a "major" center of activities, including employment or government centers, institutions of higher education, and major health facilities.

Although ADA legislation required all key stations to be accessible by July 26, 1993, the DOT ADA regulation-Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 37.47(c)(2)-permitted the FTA Administrator to grant extensions up to July 26, 2020, for stations that required extraordinarily expensive structural modifications to achieve compliance. Of the 680 key rail stations in 2010, 8 stations (1.2 percent ) were under FTA-approved time extensions. The total number of key rail stations has changed slightly over the years as certain stations have closed. As of May 23, 2014, 680 stations were designated as key. Of these, 607 were accessible and fully compliant, 30 were accessible but not fully compliant, and 28 were self-certified as accessible. "Accessible but not fully compliant" means that these stations are functionally accessible (i.e., persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users, can make use of the station), but minor outstanding issues must be addressed for the station to be fully compliant; example issues include missing or misallocated signage and parking-lot striping errors. Fifteen key rail stations that are not yet compliant are in the planning, design, or construction stage. Of these, seven stations are under FTA-approved time extensions up to 2020 (as provided under 49 CFR §37.47[c][2]). FTA continues to focus its attention on the eight stations that are not accessible and are not under a time extension, and on the seven stations with time extensions that will be expiring in the coming years.

Transit System Characteristics: Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Exhibit 2-25 shows that the share of alternative fuel buses increased from 10.5 percent in 2002 to 22.8 percent in 2012. In 2012, 12.5 percent of buses used compressed natural gas, 8.7 percent used biodiesel, and 1.6 percent used liquefied natural gas or petroleum gas. Conventional fuel buses, which make up most of the U.S. bus fleet, used diesel fuel and gasoline. In 2012, hybrid buses made up 5.9 percent of urban bus fleets as shown in Exhibit 2-26.

Exhibit 2-25 Percentage of Urban Bus Fleet Using Alternative Fuels, 2002—2012

A bar chart plots values in percent over the time period 2002 to 2012. From an initial value of 10.5 percent in 2002, the trend for alternative fuel use in urban bus fleets is steadily upward, reaching 14.3 percent in 2005 and 23 percent in 2010. This percentage decreases slightly to 22.8 percent in 2011 and ends at 23 percent in 2012. Source: National Transit Database.

Source: National Transit Database.

Exhibit 2-26 Hybrid Buses as a Percentage of Urban Bus Fleet, 2007—2012

A bar chart plots values in percent over the time period 2007 to 2012. From an initial value of 0.4 percent in 2007, the trend for hybrid buses in an urban bus fleet shows an increase to 0.9 percent in 2008, 1.6 percent in 2009, 2.7 percent in 2010, 5.2 percent in 2011, and 5.9 percent in 2012. Source: National Transit Database.

Source: National Transit Database.

Page last modified on December 20, 2016.
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