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Mass transit use hits 50-year high on pump prices

Old 03-11-08, 12:22 PM
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Mass transit use hits 50-year high on pump prices

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080310/...YEUl9sdHADMQ--

By Rebekah Kebede
Mon Mar 10, 11:48 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of Americans hopping buses and grabbing subway straps has climbed to the highest level in half a century as soaring gasoline costs push more commuters to take mass transit.

U.S. mass transit ridership began to surge when gasoline hit the $3 a gallon level in 2005 and has continued to rise steadily ever since as pump prices top record after record, according to a report released on Monday by the American Public Transit Association.

"As people are struggling with the increase in fuel prices, they have to make adjustments, and one of the ways they are doing that is driving less and taking public transportation more," said William Millar, the president of the APTA.

Mass transit use increased by more than 2 percent in 2007 to the highest level in 50 years, with Americans taking more than 10 billion trips on public transport while the number of vehicle miles traveled was flat in the first 10 months of the year.

Even when gasoline prices dipped last year and some people returned to driving, others appear to have switched to public transport permanently, according to Millar.

"We started seeing gas prices consistently go above $3 a gallon (in 2005) and we noticed that overall transit ridership was going up," Millar said.

"When gas prices moderated, some of those people said, 'Hey, this works pretty good for me, I'll stick with it."'

The largest area of mass transit growth was in light rail use, which includes street cars and trolleys, with a 6 percent increase during 2007. Commuter rails were second with an increase of 5.5 percent in ridership and subway ridership had an increase of 3.1 percent.

Cities with less than 100,000 people also saw a large increase -- 6.4 percent -- in public transportation use.

With many analysts predicting $4 gasoline this summer, mass transit use is likely to become even more popular.

"If past experience is any indication, as the price of fuel goes up and particularly as it hits a psychological milestone, which I expect $4 is, I would expect that we would see a spurt in ridership," Millar said.

(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Matthew Robinson and Matthew Lewis)

It's interesting, the oil companies may be pricing themselves out of business. Think of it, fewer people buying gasoline to drive their solo commutes and that would be less revenue for the oil companies. They could be pricing themselves into lower earnings.

I personally feel bad because I work less than a mile from my house, but I usually drive to work everyday because I usually have something to do during lunch (Costco today). But I've been trying to ride my bike more often and with the temps heating up, hopefully I can accomplish that goal.

But I hope that more cities build more mass transit and more people with stay with that lifestyle. It's more difficult here in Los Angeles with everything spread so far apart.

Chris
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Old 03-11-08, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by mrpayroll
It's interesting, the oil companies may be pricing themselves out of business. Think of it, fewer people buying gasoline to drive their solo commutes and that would be less revenue for the oil companies. They could be pricing themselves into lower earnings.
Um, have you been following the price of a barrel of oil? Not much the oil companies can do about it unless they want to sell gasoline at a loss.

I just hope this means we increase spending on mass transit. It's been allowed to stagnate for way too long.
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Old 03-11-08, 12:35 PM
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We have no mass transit, etc. in these parts. But I have noticed that I go out of town far less and use every opportunity to buy stuff online and not go get it at the B&M.

I still maintain that you will see OPEC take action before we legitimately change our lifestyles, though. They may test us to see how serious we are, but they don't want us to use less.
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Old 03-11-08, 12:36 PM
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I'd like to use mass transit, but I'd have to drive to the station (not a big deal). But I usually go to the gym after work, not sure how to manage that with mass transit
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Old 03-11-08, 12:37 PM
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I would love to take a bus, but the transit authority around here can't seem to come up with logical bus routes between my home and work.
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Old 03-11-08, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
I still maintain that you will see OPEC take action before we legitimately change our lifestyles, though. They may test us to see how serious we are, but they don't want us to use less.
They may not want us to use less, but they also want to sell more oil to China and India. It remains to be seen who will be willing to pay the most for it.
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Old 03-11-08, 12:41 PM
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One day I will be driving my electic car charaged from a solar and nuclear powered grid and this will be a bad memory. I just hope I'm not too old to drive before that happens.
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Old 03-11-08, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by aintnosin
One day I will be driving my electic car charaged from a solar and nuclear powered grid and this will be a bad memory. I just hope I'm not too old to drive before that happens.
I with you on this. Hopefully mass produced zinc/air batteries or some other technology will be a reality in the next decade. As soon as I can get a reliable all-electric car with a 500 mile range, 2 hour charge time and more than 125 HP for less than $30K, I'm in.
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Old 03-11-08, 01:03 PM
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I would love it if they built any mass transit by me, but as it stands now, all there is are local busses that would take me 2 hours to get into work and it only takes me 45 min driving. I'm hoping my next car will be a plug in hybrid. That way, I would only use gas if I went someplace beyond work. The commute would run off the electric charge each day.
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Old 03-11-08, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
I would love it if they built any mass transit by me, but as it stands now, all there is are local busses that would take me 2 hours to get into work and it only takes me 45 min driving. I'm hoping my next car will be a plug in hybrid. That way, I would only use gas if I went someplace beyond work. The commute would run off the electric charge each day.

Out of curiosity, do you know what your local power plans uses as fuel?
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Old 03-11-08, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Out of curiosity, do you know what your local power plans uses as fuel?
Most of it is coal based and natural gas based.

The anti-environmentalists are going to love this one. There's a power plant at Apollo Beach (coal fired) that Tampa Electric wanted to shut down because it was not making much money and the environmentalists fought it because the Manatees huddle in the warm waste water in the winter. They would have no place to go when the Tampa Bay water dipped under 60 deg in the winter and the baby Manatees would croak. TECO built a Manatee viewing center and snack shop there and they sell little Manatee souvenirs and they sing the praises of coal fired electricity. Oh the wonder of it all.

I think a couple of counties north of us they use Nuclear power.
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Old 03-11-08, 01:14 PM
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So to use MARTA, it'd be $52.50 a month. Its a three mile drive to the closest statiion...or a walk to the bus stop and 15 minute bus ride. Taking the train would save me about 9 miles a day in driving. I don't think that adds up to $50 in gas
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Old 03-11-08, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Venusian
So to use MARTA, it'd be $52.50 a month. Its a three mile drive to the closest statiion...or a walk to the bus stop and 15 minute bus ride. Taking the train would save me about 9 miles a day in driving. I don't think that adds up to $50 in gas
Yet!

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Old 03-11-08, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Venusian
So to use MARTA, it'd be $52.50 a month. Its a three mile drive to the closest statiion...or a walk to the bus stop and 15 minute bus ride. Taking the train would save me about 9 miles a day in driving. I don't think that adds up to $50 in gas
9 miles a day times 20 work days a month is 180 miles.

Gas is about $3.20 in Atlanta, so your $52.50 could buy you about 16.5 gallons of gas.

That means if you get 11 miles per gallon or better, it will be cheaper for you to drive. If you get worse than 11 miles per gallon, take the train.

Note that this analysis ignores wear-and-tear on the car.
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Old 03-11-08, 01:42 PM
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Yeah, that's the math I did. My Altima gets considerably more than 11mpg.
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Old 03-11-08, 01:43 PM
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That's the problem with most public transport systems in this country: they don't take you where you want to go.
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Old 03-11-08, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by aintnosin
but the transit authority around here can't seem to come up with logical bus routes between my home and work.
Yep, and this is strange for me because my route is fairly common.

By car - no traffic - it takes me 15 minutes
By car - with traffic - it takes me 20-25 minutes
By car - severe traffic - it takes me 40 minutes

by bus - best case - 1 hour and 15 minutes

I can pedal bike ride it in 50 minutes fairly consistent.

Motorcycle is my best option, warm weather here I come Even in pretty bad traffic, I can motorcycle it in about 20 minutes. (HOV lanes pay off for me)

I need to rejet the bike anyway, I think I might lean it out a bit and see how high I can get the mileage Previous jets have all been about power and I can get 44-45 mpg in traffic. I think I can get it up to 48 if I try.
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Old 03-11-08, 01:55 PM
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Great. You use public transit and save us gas. I will hopefully see gas prices go down.
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Old 03-11-08, 02:05 PM
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$4/gallon should finally convince somebody to invent the Transporter.
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Old 03-11-08, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
That's the problem with most public transport systems in this country: they don't take you where you want to go.

That's the problem with DC's Metro. It's a hub and spoke system so if you live at/near one end of a spoke and work at the end of another spoke, it's not worth it to Metro.
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Old 03-11-08, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
That's the problem with DC's Metro. It's a hub and spoke system so if you live at/near one end of a spoke and work at the end of another spoke, it's not worth it to Metro.
Most of this suburb-to-suburb commuting only works with private cars. It's not really a fault of the mass transit system, as you can never cost-effectively design one that would work that way.
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Old 03-11-08, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Most of this suburb-to-suburb commuting only works with private cars. It's not really a fault of the mass transit system, as you can never cost-effectively design one that would work that way.
And in the DC area, tens of thousands of people have this type commute. When Metro was built, there was an assumption made that everyone worked either on K-St., the Hill, or The Pentagon (and surrounding area). It was collossally short-sighted. It very well could have been cost-effective in the early 1970s to build a ring/circle-line along the Beltway, but not anymore.
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Old 03-11-08, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mrpayroll
It's interesting, the oil companies may be pricing themselves out of business. Think of it, fewer people buying gasoline to drive their solo commutes and that would be less revenue for the oil companies. They could be pricing themselves into lower earnings.
Yes, I'm sure they are shaking in their boots. Lower earnings than what? The record profits? Man, that would be devastating to them if they only made a ton of money instead of record tons of money. The mass transit infrastructure in this country isn't big enough to carry enough passengers to make any sort of difference whatsoever. Stop hoping.
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Old 03-11-08, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
And in the DC area, tens of thousands of people have this type commute. When Metro was built, there was an assumption made that everyone worked either on K-St., the Hill, or The Pentagon (and surrounding area). It was collossally short-sighted. It very well could have been cost-effective in the early 1970s to build a ring/circle-line along the Beltway, but not anymore.
If I remember correctly, there actually was a plan to build a circle line in DC, but it got scrapped. The DC Metro is actually a fairly well-designed system, all things considered. I can't believe the thing actually got built at all.

New York has this problem as well- if you live in Brooklyn and work in, say, Queens, you're going to have a long commute unless you drive.

However in the case of DC, I'm not sure how else they could have designed the system. How many people had suburb-to-suburb commutes in the '70s?

Last edited by Tracer Bullet; 03-11-08 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 03-11-08, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
If I remember correctly, there actually was a plan to build a circle line in DC, but it got scrapped. The DC Metro is actually a fairly well-designed system, all things considered. I can't believe the thing actually got built at all.

New York has this problem as well- if you live in Brooklyn and work in, say, Queens, you're going to have a long commute unless you drive.
Brooklyn and Queens, you at least have the G. You can also transfer on the J or the Z to the E. Getting to the Bronx from Queens is teh suck (You have to go through Manhattan). I had at least 1.5 hrs commute to get home if I was coming home from a Yankee game, but that also included the LIRR.
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