$5 a Gallon Gas Could Spur Up to 1.5 Billion Additional Passenger Trips on U.S. Public Transportation Systems

Mar 14, 2011, 07:00 ET from American Public Transportation Association (APTA)

Congress needs to provide long-term investment in public transit to address impending demand

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A study released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) predicts that as gasoline prices continue increasing, Americans will turn to public transportation in record numbers.  APTA is calling on Congress to address this impending demand by providing a greater long-term investment in public transportation.  

The analysis reveals if regular gas prices reach $4 a gallon across the nation, as many experts have forecasted, an additional 670 million passenger trips could be expected, resulting in more than 10.8 billion trips per year. If pump prices jump to $5 a gallon, the report predicts an additional 1.5 billion passenger trips can be expected, resulting in more than 11.6 billion trips per year.   And if prices were to soar to $6 a gallon, expectations go as high as an additional 2.7 billion passenger trips, resulting in more than 12.9 billion trips per year.

"The volatility of the price at the pump is another wake up call for our nation to address the increasing demand for public transportation services," said APTA President William Millar.  "We must make significant, long-term investments in public transportation or we will leave our fellow Americans with limited travel options, or in many cases stranded without travel options.  Public transit is the quickest way for people to beat high gas prices if it is available."  

Many of the public transit systems across the country are already seeing large ridership increases, some reaching double digits in the month of February as compared to the previous year.  For instance; the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority in Pompano Beach, FL increased by 10.6  percent; Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority of Philadelphia, PA increased by 10 percent;  and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority of Oakland, CA increased by 14 percent.

"We saw this same story in 2008 and several times before where high gas prices caught our country without adequate travel options," said Millar.  "However, this time we can write a happy ending and make sure investment is made to expand public transportation so that more Americans have a choice in how they travel."

APTA supports the Obama Administration's transportation authorization blueprint and proposal which increases public transit investment by 128 percent over the next six years.  This type of investment would help close the gap for the 46 percent of Americans who do not have access to public transportation.    

APTA is encouraging riders to tell Congress they need more transportation options by going to publictransportation.org or text TRANSIT to 86677 and join the "I <3 (heart) transit campaign."

The projected estimates use the 2010 APTA Public Transportation Ridership Report as a baseline.  The ridership is then increased by the reported elasticity multiplied by the projected price change to show ridership growth at a given increase above the average price for regular gasoline as reported in the last 2010 report by the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy.

A copy of the report can be found at www.apta.com.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of more than 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services, and high-speed rail.


Alina Piacentino

(202) 390-4347


SOURCE American Public Transportation Association (APTA)