Straphangers grow in step with gas prices

More Americans opted to take public transportation in the third quarter as gas prices hit record levels.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all RSS FEEDS (close)
By Aaron Smith, staff writer

Do you know anyone who has lost a job recently?
  • I have
  • A friend or family member
  • No

NEWYORK ( -- Americans turned to public transportation in the third quarter at their biggest jump in 25 years as gas prices hit record levels, according to a Monday report.

More than 2.8 billion trips were taken on public transportation nationwide from July to September, an increase of 6.5% compared with the same period last year, said the American Public Transportation Association.

During that time, on July 17, gas prices hit the all-time record high of $4.114 per gallon of unleaded, according to a nationwide average provided by the motorist group AAA.

This follows a surge in public transportation use in 2007, when Americans took 10.3 billion trips on commuter trains, buses, subways, trolleys and other types of transport.

After hitting their peak in July, gas prices declined for much of the remaining quarter, which ended on Sept. 30. The nationwide average for unleaded prices dropped to $3.90 per gallon on July 31 and down to $3.63 per gallon on Sept. 30, according to AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair.

William Millar, president of the APTA, said many of the commuters who had switched to public transportation because of high gas prices did not switch back during the price decline because they'd gotten used to leaving their cars at home.

"It does appear that the high gas prices at the beginning and the middle of the year actually caused some people to change their habits," said Millar. "They tried public transport at the beginning of the year, decided that it worked pretty well with them, and are staying with public transit."

Millar said he believes that Americans are continuing to use public transportation at increasingly rates in the fourth quarter, based on preliminary information his organization has gathered.

The association said that light rail use increased by 8.5% in the third quarter, the biggest increase among the different modes of transportation. The use of busses jumped 7.2% during that period, while commuter rail increased by 6.3% and heavy rail, which includes subways and elevated trains, grew by 5.2%. To top of page

They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
Zombie brands with a second life Where you can still get an Ionic Breeze air freshener. The Sharper Image and five other bankrupt brands still walk among the living, sort of. More
4 trends popping up in high-end kitchens Here's what luxury homeowners are adding to their kitchens. More
Meet the kids dressed as Oscars red carpet stars By now, you've seen the red carpet looks from the 2015 Oscars. But you haven't seen 5 year-olds dressed up like A-listers at the awards, until now. Photographer Tricia Messeroux and designer Andrea Pitter recreated the pint-sized looks in just 36 hours. More