2012 PATCO ridership and bridge crossing data from the Delaware River Port Authority might mark the beginning of a new trend in South Jersey. For the second year in a row, train ridership grew while driving decreased.
After the 2011 hike in bridge tolls on all four Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA)-owned bridges led to a 3 percent decrease in bridge crossings and contributed to an increase in PATCO ridership, it was to be seen if this was a one-year blip or a sign of changing transportation patterns in South Jersey and Philadelphia.
Despite shutdowns due to Superstorm Sandy, according to DRPA’s most recent unaudited financial survey, the PATCO system recorded more riders in 2012 than it has in any of the 10 most recent years, and saw a 1.6 percent growth in ridership over its large 2011 gains (which occurred despite a 10 percent fare increase in 2011 as well).
There are also positive signs that ridership may continue to grow with new transit-oriented developments (TOD) along the PATCO line. The Camden Haddon Avenue Transit Village project is slated to break ground this year around PATCO’s Ferry Avenue Station, and it was recently announced that the LumberYard mixed-used development project at PATCO’s Collingswood Station has officially restarted.
These TOD projects, combined with increased PATCO ridership and decreased car trips across DRPA bridges, should serve to further reduce area roadway congestion, improve air quality and enhance future economic development activities in the region.