WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 09, 2011, 03:27 PM

As gas prices climb, bus ridership in the metro follows suit

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - We all shutter as we drive past the gas station and notice the price of gas has jumped again, but how many people are actually changing their driving habits? A lot of people are giving public transit a try.

Every time a trip to the pump gets more painful, it seems more folks are trying MATBUS. In fact, in just the first two month of this year, ridership is already up 9 percent and that's a trend that's remained true over the past decade.

MATBUS saw a spike in riders each time there was a jump in gas prices, starting in 1999 when gas was about a dollar a gallon and MATBUS had less than half a million riders. Now, they have about 2 million altogether.

It is something more people may want to consider, as the cost savings can be significant.

JIM GILMOUR - Fargo Planning & Development: “There's some national figures that if you can avoid owning a second car in your household, you can probably save $9,000. The cost of a monthly bus pass is less than filling up your tank one time, even if you have an economy car.”

MATBUS plans to promote their services even more around local campuses and downtown where parking costs are another concern for folks, on top of rising gas prices. Each time ridership increased with gas prices, Gilmour says most of those riders continued to take the bus once prices went back down.