As gas goes up so do the transit riders:
This month, researchers from International Business Machines Corp. surveyed 4,091 drivers in 10 U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York. With national gasoline prices averaging $3.67 per gallon at the time of the survey, 9% of drivers said they already were seriously considering other commuting options. At $4.50 a gallon, the figure jumps to 46%.
At $5 a gallon it goes to 66%. This actually a problem for transit agencies who are having a hard time finding money because of lower economic activity due to the recession and are fighting higher diesel prices at the same time. From the WSJ:
After decades trying to gin up enthusiasm for their services, public transit agencies are now having trouble meeting rising demand as more commuters dodge high gasoline prices by hopping on a train or bus.
Under normal circumstances, the surge in ridership would be a boon to the agencies, which have long argued that public transit is one of the best ways to combat social ills such as traffic congestion and global warming.
But at the very moment they should be investing to expand their services, the same driver that is ballooning ridership is crippling transit budgets: steep fuel bills. As record numbers of people board buses and trains, higher costs are forcing public transit agencies to scale back on services, further straining capacity. Local transit agencies fret that the capacity problems may squander the opportunity to convert more Americans to public transportation.
The P-I editorial board hopes that Metro won’t have to cut service, I do too. I think the opportunity that could be squandered is the good will of the voters that will enable Sound Transit to win a the ballot. Electric light rail doesn’t get more expensive when diesel prices rise. It’ll be interesting to see what happens, but if service does get cut, how will we cope with our commutes?