By Keith Laing - 03/14/11 02:15 PM EDT
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) said Monday that if gas prices reach $4 a gallon, the number of trips taken on public transportation in the country will increase by 670 million.
A study by the organization showed that if gas prices hit $5 per gallon, there would be an additional 1.5 billion trips per year. Only about 10.1 million trips are taken now.
The average national price of a gallon of regular gasoline on Monday was $3.55, according to the AAA Auto Club.
A month ago, the average price was $3.12 per gallon. A year ago, it was $2.91.
APTA President William Millar said that was proof the nation needs more public transportation.
“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,” Millar said in a statement announcing the study. “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.”
Millar said some transit systems across the country already have seen big jumps in their February ridership numbers.
The Tri-Rail train in south Florida saw an increase of 10.6 percent, he said, and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation in Philadelphia saw a 10 percent increase. The Capitol Joint Powers Authority of Oakland, Calif., had a 14 percent ridership jump, Millar added.
The trend is not surprising, he said.
“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.”