A study released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) predicts significant increases in transit ridership nationwide if gas prices continue to rise (News Release, Full Report).
In predicting how motorists will respond to changing gas prices, APTA used estimates from a few previous studies, including previous research conducted by SURTC in 2008. The SURTC report on gas prices and transit is available online here: Effects of Rising Gas Prices on Bus Ridership for Small Urban and Rural Transit Systems (pdf).
National and local media across the country are reporting on increased demand for transit given the recent spike in gas prices (CBS; KETV in Omaha, NE; New Mexico Business Weekly; WBKO in Bowling Green, KY; WYFF in Greenville, SC; 9&10 News in Northern Michigan; Washington Post).
While rising fuel prices could be spurring ridership, the increased costs for transit providers could lead to budget problems (AltTransport, Republican Herald). The previous SURTC study showed that the increased fare revenues earned from motorists switching to transit was more than offset by the higher fuel costs paid by the transit agencies.