It’s encouraging that more Americans are relying on public transportation now than they have since the Eisenhower administration.

Last year, bus and rail riders took about 10.7 billion trips, the highest number since 1957.

The numbers from the American Public Transportation Association show that, given choices, commuters are willing to step out of their cars and onto trains and buses. It’s also a sign that cities, large and small, are offering people more ways to get from here to there.

Even places like Los Angeles, where the car is king, had substantial increases in rail ridership.

Kye R. Lee | Dallas News

Locally, DART enjoyed a slight 1.4 percent increase in its light rail ridership last year, though bus ridership declined more than 4 percent over the same period, according to the study.

DART’s growth figures for light rail are roughly on par with national trends, the study concludes. Nevertheless, the agency must continue to seek creative ways to reach more riders and to eventually expand beyond its member cities. The region is growing faster than the city of Dallas. To achieve a balanced transit system, DART has to reach riders in growing areas — something easier said than done.

Still, DART represents one of the best opportunities for the future development of Dallas itself. The city needs to build on DART’s promise of increased density around its rail stations. {….}