High Gas Prices Spark Boost In Transit Ridership

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Siobhan Granvold is waiting for the bus in front of the Sacramento State campus.   

"I’m a student, I’m taking 21 units, I’m not working right now so I’m trying to drive as little as possible and the bus is a really easy option for me." 

The history student only lives about 20-minutes from Sac State but she says the high price of gas has prompted her to get on the bus.   

"I can’t afford to drive to and from school everyday. It’s just not practical anymore." 

Jeff Alexander is also waiting for the bus. He says it’s not economical to drive right now but there are some drawbacks to taking public transportation. 

"The schedules of the buses are a little awkward. But when you don’t have the money to put gas in your gas tank, you have more time than money, the buses work." 

Regional Transit officials say more people are taking the bus as well as light rail trains. Ridership on both last month was up 8% compared to a year ago. 

More passengers are also taking the state-supported Capitol Corridor trains which run between Auburn, Sacramento, the Bay Area and San Jose.   

"The ridership is driven to a large extent by the price of gasoline." 

Patrick Merrill is with Caltrans’ rail division. He says their latest numbers show an 11.5% gain in ridership on the trains compared to the same time the year before. He says there are a few reasons for that. 

"The ridership increases I believe is the result of the higher gasoline prices and the improved on-time performance of the trains." 

Merrill says high gas prices could indirectly help boost California’s train service. He says the state rail plan projects adding more trains as ridership and revenue continues to increase.