Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Can’t Afford Fuel Prices? Take the Bus!

I’ll be honest. I’ve spent most of my life driving in cars, not taking public transportation. Growing up in the Seattle suburbs, public transportation wasn’t as readily available for me as it was for my city friends. I had a car, and it never occurred to me to not drive it.

Today, I live in the city and work in the city. There is a bus that stops literally right in front of my house and drops me off a block from work, so I take it everyday. As I was riding the #12 downtown this morning, I noticed the latest gas prices. $4.25 for Regular, $4.45 for Premium. Yikes.

And I wonder, how many daily commuters are now turning to King Country Metro and similar public transportation organizations across the country? It seems that some of the people who drive long distances every day are now wondering if they can justify the additional costs to fill up.

A recent Associated Press article highlighted this very idea, with the following statistics demonstrating a substantial shift in commuting patterns:

“Among the cities registering big increases in the first quarter were Baltimore, where light rail ridership was up 17 percent from the same period a year ago; Seattle, which saw a 28 percent jump in commuter rail passengers; Boston, where subway ridership rose 9 percent; and San Antonio, where the number of bus riders climbed 11 percent…

…Meanwhile, the number of miles driven on American roads fell slightly last year — from 3.014 trillion to 3.003 trillion, according to the Federal Highway Administration. It was the first time since 1980 that the figure had not increased. The drop has continued this year.”

While public transportation won’t suit everyone’s needs, it certainly seems to be gaining popularity as the alternative becomes less and less financially viable for many commuters.

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