To Ride or Not to Ride

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Public transit ridership indicates that Americans may make greener lifestyle choices even when not prodded by financial forces.

The Washington Postreports that American commuters continued to flood buses and trains “in record numbers in the third quarter of this year,” despite sharp declines in gas prices. Which kind of puts a wrench in the seemingly obvious cause and effect relationship between increased ridership and high gas prices.

Riders may just have become accustomed to using public transportation after prices at the pump forced them onto the bus. Whatever the case, their continued willingness to opt out of driving, at least some of the time, is welcome news for transit advocates, particularly when coupled with president-elect Obama’s recent commitment to fund infrastructure developments, including transit.

But the picture’s not all sunny for public transit. As the Post points out, “Despite ridership demand, severe budget deficits and declining sales and property tax revenues have already forced many transit agencies to raise fares and cut service.”

(Thanks, Yale Environment 360.)

Image by btorzyn, licensed under Creative Commons.

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