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Soaring gas prices could spur up to 1.5 billion trips on public transportation, APTA says


On Monday, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released a study predicting that if gasoline prices soar to $5 per gallon, an additional 1.5 billion rider trips would be generated on the nation’s public transportation systems. That increase would result in a total of 11.6 billion trips on public transportation annually.

If, or when, gasoline prices reach $4 per gallon, an additional 670 million rider trips would be registered, for a total of 10.8 billion trips per year, the study found. At $6 per gallon, an additional 2.7 billion rider trips would be taken, pushing up annual ridership to more than 12.9 billion trips.

APTA released the study in part to encourage Congress to provide greater long-term investment in public transportation.

"The volatility of the price at the pump is another wake-up call for our nation to address the increasing demand for public transportation services," APTA President William Millar said in a prepared statement. "We must make significant, long-term investments in public transportation or we will leave our fellow Americans with limited travel options, or in many cases stranded without travel options."

Many public transit systems already have experienced ridership increases as gas prices have risen, APTA officials noted. Take February ridership totals for example: the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority reported a 10.6 percent increase in ridership; the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s ridership rose 10 percent; and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority of Oakland, Calif., saw its ridership soar 14 percent, APTA said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/15/2011