Potential Impact of Gasoline Price Increases on U.S. Public Transportation Ridership, 2011 -2012

Posted by Content Coordinator on Thursday, March 31st, 2011


Executive Summary

Experience over the past decade, backed by several notable research studies, shows that price increases in gasoline cause related increases in public transportation ridership. Based on that information, this report provides a model that projects future increases in public transit ridership that will accompany rising gasoline prices.

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.

Transit systems across America are working hard to address immediate capacity issues which would result. During the 2007 and 2008 gas price spike, 85 percent of transit agencies reported experiencing capacity constraints on parts of their systems. Over one-half of systems operated service crowded beyond their local service standards. This was despite 48 percent of agencies adding service. Thirty-nine percent reported that overcrowded conditions were such that they were turning away passengers.

With most states, municipalities and transit systems short of funds due to the recent economic recession, the Congress must act to fund public transportation investment needs: First in the FY 2011 final appropriations bills and second by enacting a well-funded, six year, multimodal surface transportation law such as has been proposed by President Obama in his FY 2012 budget.

Figure 1

Download full report (PDF): Potential Impact of Gasoline Price Increases on U.S. Public Transportation Ridership

About American Public Transportation Association
“APTA is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 member organizations including public transportation systems; planning,  design, construction and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; and state associations and  departments of transportation…APTA and its members and staff work to ensure that public transportation is available and accessible for all Americans in communities across the country.”

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