Thursday, October 23, 2008

Will people leave buses when gas goes down?

A few months ago, when gas prices were skyrocketing, everyone seemed to be leaving their cars behind in favour of public transit (see two past articles for more: here and here). Ridership in Ottawa has not only hit record-highs, but has been growing at record levels. The United States hit a 50-year high in public-transit use back in March, attributed to high gas prices.

But is the opposite true: When gas prices go back down, as they have in the Ottawa area over the last few weeks, do people abandon mass transit and return to their cars? According to at least one source--Salt Lake City's KSL Newsmedia--it's unlikely.

From the story:
"Soaring fuel prices prompted a lot of people to park their cars and take mass transit. But now gas prices are hovering near $3.00 a gallon, and a few may be feeling the temptation to get back behind the wheel.

"UTA doesn't expect a lot of its riders will go back to cars, even with two fuel surcharges that are still in place. Many commuters who spoke with us agreed."

Hard to say whether or not public transit use in Ottawa will follow the same trends as that in Salt Lake City, but the hope is that momentum gained with increased ridership will continue.

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