Sunday, May 11, 2008

High Gas Prices

Here is Stephen Colbert on the causes of high gas prices:

[Link here if video fails to embed.]

On a related note, the rise in gas prices has led more people to use public transportation.

Mass transit systems around the country are seeing standing-room-only crowds on bus lines where seats were once easy to come by. Parking lots at many bus and light rail stations are suddenly overflowing, with commuters in some towns risking a ticket or tow by parking on nearby grassy areas and in vacant lots....

Some cities with long-established public transit systems, like New York and Boston, have seen increases in ridership of 5 percent or more so far this year. But the biggest surges — of 10 to 15 percent or more over last year — are occurring in many metropolitan areas in the South and West where the driving culture is strongest and bus and rail lines are more limited....

Transit systems in metropolitan areas like Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco reported similar jumps. In cities like Houston, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and Charlotte, N.C., commuters in growing numbers are taking advantage of new bus and train lines built or expanded in the last few years. The American Public Transportation Association reports that localities with fewer than 100,000 people have also experienced large increases in bus ridership.
Public transit still accounts for a very small portion of overall commuting trips. However, a surge in ridership could encourage more cities to invest in new or expanded systems and thus encourage higher ridership. That would go a long way towards reducing carbon emissions and urban traffic congestion. It would be even better if increased ridership encouraged investment in regional rail.