Friday, January 16, 2009

Will People Continue to Take Buses & Trains

Trains and buses were crowded when gas prices flirted with $5 a gallon. But now that gas prices have dropped to the $2-per-gallon range, I wonder if ridership on public trains and buses will also drop.

So far it looks good in my area. Even in the middle of the day, I still have plenty of company when I ride trains and buses in Miami. Keep in mind, that South Florida is not an ideal environment for public transportation. It's a sprawling area where people are in LOVE with personal vehicles.

People used to pity me -- a former New Yorker -- when I would hitch rides on buses and trains. But when gas prices spiked, my opinion and expertise about public transportation was in hot demand. Suddenly, there was a crowd of people who wanted to share my frugal rides, and I have had trouble finding seats on packed buses and trains.

The crowds in South Florida continue to show interest in public transportation. Here's a release from our regional transit authority:

"Tri-Rail Sets New Ridership Records

In 2008 Passenger Count Tops 4,000,000 for First Time in History

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority announced today that Tri-Rail carried more than four million passengers during 2008, marking the first time in the system’s 20-year history that ridership has broken that benchmark in a single, calendar year.

Preliminary figures show that Tri-Rail carried 4,303,509 passengers in 2008, representing a 22.9 percent increase over the 2007 total of 3,501,704 passengers.

“These statistics show that the trend of double-digit growth that we have experienced over the past three years is continuing,” said SFRTA Executive Director Joe Giulietti.

“Even with the dramatic reduction in the price of fuel, ridership continues to grow at a record pace. People in South Florida, like record numbers across the country, have come to realize that using public transportation isn’t just about saving money on gasoline; it’s also about mobility, sustainability and taking responsibility for the environment.”

According to the American Public Transportation Association, Tri-Rail has consistently been one of the nation’s leaders for ridership growth in the commuter rail sector since 2006, when it showed the largest percentage of growth of any system in the country. Ridership on Tri-Rail has more than doubled since 2005. For more information, call 1-800-TRI-RAIL (874-7245). "


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1 comment:

Bryan @ Frugal Logic said...

I am in Melbourne, Australia. I also wondered if the number of people taking public transport would drop as the price of petrol dropped.

I have found the same result as the above, our trains, trams and buses are all experiencing high occupancy. In fact a lot of people are complaining about how crowded public transport is during peak times.

It's good to see, as I am a huge fan of public transport in terms of frugality and the environment.