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Are High Gas Prices Getting You on the Public Bandwagon?

While gas prices break records, so do ridership rates on public transportation systems across America. The New York Times reports that the biggest increases are seen in areas with a significant driving culture, such as the South and West.

Mass transit systems are having trouble coping with the masses. Rising fuel costs hit the systems hard, and the economic slow down means less funding from sales tax receipts. Thus, there is not enough money to put more buses on the street. Even so, people are opting for the standing room only services.

American bicycle shops are also reporting stronger business so far this year. A record number of commuters are expected to participate in Bike-To-Work Week and Bike-to-Work-Day (May 16th).

So, what about you? Have gas prices caused you to change your transportation habits? Do you think high gas prices could eventually motivate Americans (and their cities) to ditch their cars and develop efficient mass transit?


Join The Conversation
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 9 years
I only have to commute about 10 miles (which is about a 15 minute drive) and I would rather take my own car than take public transportation, which takes sooo much longer. There is a lightrail sorta near my house but it goes way off course from where I need to go.
Nyrina-Windu Nyrina-Windu 9 years
The gas prices are far too high of course, but I could never take public transportation. I love my comfy car too much.
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
I work about 5 miles from home, and the public transportation near my house is a joke. The light rail doesn't even begin until a few blocks from work, so I just drive.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I think the revealing picture here is that our public transit system nation wide does have a few highlights but across the board and compared to Europe and Japan it is substandard to our needs. "I think a big part of the problem with mass transit in the U.S. is money. Governments don't want to invest money without some sort of guarantee they will make it back. Of course, people don't want to use public transportation if it is unreliable and can't use it if it's unavailable. Making it more reliable and more available would be costly. You kind of keep going in a circle." I agree lilkimbo. Most don't seem to make the connection that it is crappie because we don't make public transit a priority investment and if we did it would be great. Some would say well why invest in it if we can't get people out of their cars. Well those are the people who were raised in a car culture. There are future generations who if raised with a mass transit culture available to them would more likely appreciate the benefits.
javsmav javsmav 9 years
me too, Popgoestheworld. I'm not upset about rising gas prices. Our society needs to re-evaluate the way we live & if the risk to the environment won't make people change their habits, maybe the cost of gas will. I don't own a car, so I rely on public transportation & a use a car share program if I absolutely cannot take public transportation. I won't live in a city that doesn't have reliable public transportation.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I have a car I used to drive a lot when I commuted. But, now I work from home. I use transit in DC whenever I can, but I play soccer and frisbee a lot out in VA where there are no trains. So I use my car for that. But I try to carpool whenever I can. Honestly, I am glad that rising gas prices are finally forcing people to take a look at their habits. Obviously there are people that can't control how much they spend on gas. But even if there isn't mass transit out in the burbs, my guess is that with some effort MOST people could find a carpool, or set up a community carpool van if one doesn't exist already. Bottom line is people will only make sacrifices when they're forced to. Now we're being forced to.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
The only good part about where I live is my wife lives just close enough to her job that she feels she can ride a bike to work, and she takes the kids in a trailer. She is getting into INCREDIBLY good shape now :evil:
RaCheer RaCheer 9 years
I live too far from work to bike or bus it. I also live in a Florida beach town where trains and subways are non-existent so I don't really have a choice. I think a lot of Americans are in the same situation.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I think a big part of the problem with mass transit in the U.S. is money. Governments don't want to invest money without some sort of guarantee they will make it back. Of course, people don't want to use public transportation if it is unreliable and can't use it if it's unavailable. Making it more reliable and more available would be costly. You kind of keep going in a circle. I personally live in the D.C. area, so I use public transportation a lot. Some days I am satisfied with it, other days I am less than satisfied. It works for the most part, though. I keep my car for trips out of town and to the grocery store, etc. I hardly ever drive, though, and, excluding trips out of town, only spend about $40 on gas a month. I could probably get rid of my car, but I keep it for ease and in case of emergency.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
I already carpool when I can so it aint so bad for me.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
I'm a major control freak, so I've always had a car. I don't like depending on others--even public transit--to get anywhere. However, even if I wanted to, mass transit in Los Angeles is dreadful. The buses are inconsistent, run late, sometimes don't stop at pick-up points. My kids take the local bus home from school, and have a problem at least once a week. Also, welcome to the modern era, most people don't work close to home. Walking or bicycling is not generally feasible. (Although, the last year or two I occasionally pass a guy who rides a Segway, I see him often enough that he must use it as regular transportation.) Besides, most of us have busy lives. Every weekday it's 7 miles to the kids' school, then 18 miles to work, and 13 miles home. Plus, I use lunchtimes to run errands, to free up my evenings. (It's also less crowded and more efficient during the day, particularly in the area where I work vs. where I live.)
ALSW ALSW 9 years
I'd have to drive 25 miles just to catch the Metro and at least 20 or so before I can catch a bus. After driving that, why not just drive the other few miles to work?
inertia inertia 9 years
I've never owned my own car. Right now I live in Tokyo where the public transportation is excellent. It HAS to be good. Around a million people pass through Shinjuku station every day, and that's just one of the city hubs. If even 1/3 of these people started taking cars... No, it's impossible. The cars just wouldn't fit on the road, and anyway no one can afford it. Gas prices have been terribly high here for a long time so people have learned to do without. The recent price hike hasn't affected me in my daily life because I use so little gas. Even the heating and hot water in my apartment is electric. It was only when I took a flight to Europe that I encountered higher prices because of fuel. But I got by without a car when I lived in the US too. I pick cities based on their public transportation systems and have always made it a priority to find apartments within walking distance from bus and train stops. These apartments aren't as big as the houses sprawling in the middle of nowhere 50 miles from work, but they exist, and the lower energy and transportation bills make up for the higher rent. And you don't have to spend as much time in the gym when you're getting a daily dose of exercise from walking to/from the station.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Yeah beautijunki I was talking about the fires on the BART line near Hayward. flutterpie: I know how you feel now but back in the day like 40's, 50's & 60's Los Angeles had an excellent light rail system called the Red Car. In fact we have one of them running up and down Market St. here in San Francisco. It was dismanteled in the 60's because of strong lobbying by the auto and tire industry to build more freeways.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Also, in SF, they are cutting back on many city routes so there will be parts of the city that are now inaccessible without a car. SF is so pathetic sometimes.
flutterpie flutterpie 9 years
the public transportation is almost non existent in california, i couldnt imagine doing my job (merchandising) while trying to deal with the bus and subway system in la. the funny thing is that our new york guys do it just fine so its not the fact that i have a job where i need a car, its the fact that california has never made a good effort to implement decent public transporation
MindayH MindayH 9 years
Love that I live in a city that has public transportation.
kia kia 9 years
My hubby and I planned a recent move to an area where we would be driving a lot less. We are now down to one car, we both bike, and in 5 weeks we have only filled the gas tank once.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
UnDave, Ditto that. If you didn't have 'roids living here, you soon would!
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Fortunately, I can avoid most bridges, and I do. The roads are in such poor condition right now, I am truly afraid of the bridge system in western WI
BeautiJunki BeautiJunki 9 years
Hey Hypno are you talking about the 2 fires at the Hayward BART yard and how its gonna be 6-8 wks to have to transfer at bayfair?? I do now have the option to take pt we'll see how it goes cuz I heart my car. If i live in the city I would totally do car share like bella. Movie about nyc alway make it look so easy.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
UnDave, just be careful if you have to ride over one of our neigboring bridges on that crotch rocket! ;)
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I'm looking into some type of motorcycle to use throughout the summer. I don't have the option for mass transit because of my job.
CiaoBella2 CiaoBella2 9 years
I walk my son to/from school and we have a scooter that saves on gas.
janneth janneth 9 years
Weekdays we carpool or take public transpo. But weekends, very bad. We drive mucho. Long distances.
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