High Gas Prices Driving Up Mass Transit Ridership

High Gas Prices Driving Up Mass Transit Ridership

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John Delay ReportingAshley Rogers, TRAX Rider: "Gas prices are so high I decided to ride TRAX and save some money."

Put off by high gas prices, more and more people are jumping on mass transit. In fact, the numbers are historic.

Advocates of mass transit have long argued our modern transportation system needs more options like TRAX. For a lot of people it's now becoming the #1 option. If you've taken TRAX lately, you've had plenty of company, people like Ashley taking TRAX from Sandy to the U. of U. for the very first time today.

Ashley Rogers, TRAX Rider: "It's something I've been thinking about. I decided to take it today and hopefully I'll be able to save some cash."

Record high gas prices are proving to be a major motivator to switch a personal car for public transit.

Klint Lewis, TRAX Rider: "I figured it would cost $28 a week and TRAX is maybe $14, $15 a month, maybe."

Kathryn Hopkins, TRAX Rider: "It saves me anywhere from $20 to $30 a week probably."

Van poolers leaving early in the morning for a ride to Hill Air Force Base have similar thoughts.

Ben Romero, Vanpooler: "It's quite convenient for me because they take me up there and then they bring me back."

Kirk Carter, Vanpooler: "It saves us money, but it's not only a way to get up to the base, but also to conserve some gas."

The numbers of riders on all forms of mass transit are up considerably. Bus ridership is up 2.5% this year. The numbers taking TRAX have increased 8.5% in August compared with the previous year. UTA has linked up more than 370 new car pool partners, a 68% spike. And there are 111% more passengers using UTA's van pools.

Utah once had one of the world's best rail systems, only to see it torn out for cars. By the 1940s there were 33 million riders on Utah's trolleys and trains. Now for the first time since, the Beehive State has exceeded that number with 35 million mass transit rides a year.

More rail options are in the works. Commuter rail from Ogden to Salt Lake opens in spring of 2008. The Mid-Jordan TRAX line, connecting Murray, Midvale, West Jordan, South Jordan, is expected to open in 2009. Later lines could include the airport, West Valley and Draper.

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