- Title: USA: Rising gas prices force L.A. drivers to reconsider mass transit
- Date: 18th May 2008
- Summary: (L!3) LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF TRAFFIC ON FREEWAY
- Embargoed: 2nd June 2008 13:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Topics: Transport,Energy
- Reuters ID: LVABRAOQS41V2PY0FEFQAAKPG1DC
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Historically, southern Californians have loved to drive -- everywhere. Eight-lane freeways run up, down and across this part of the state and are usually filled with cars, at all times of the day. Additionally, the earthquake prone region has been loathe to embrace any sort of communal transportation, especially one necessitating underground travel.
But the ongoing spike in gas prices has forced many here to rethink the "unthinkable" - actually using mass transit to get around.
In fact, that change in attitude can be seen at L.A.'s Union Station, where the morning rush hour commute actually appears to be bustling. For many drivers, the decision to turn in their keys for a metro rail pass seems like the only way to ease their pain at the pump.
"The cost of gas, the cost of parking downtown," explained Kris Zymans, of Los Angeles, on the reasons for her switching to mass transit.
"The place that I work with gives incentives to ride the rail. So, it just stands to reason that it saves me money. It helps me every month, it's a little longer on my commute by an additional 15 minutes. But, I look at it this way, that I'm getting my exercise by walking to the train and it is saving me money as well."
The rise in gas prices along with an increase in freeway traffic has left many in the "Golden State" wondering whether driving to work is even worth it anymore.
"I think I take the train because everyone drives," says Nick Mendoza of Los Angeles. "There are too many damn people on the road."
"I think it's ridiculous -- it's kind of too high (price of gas)," added fellow metro rider Christie Williams, also of Los Angeles.
"People need to get to work and this is a lot easier, taking the train.
Lot of stress, traffic, so, it helps."
So far, ridership on the city's subway and bus lines are up 5 percent compared to a year ago and with no price relief in sight, that's a trend that Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) officials say will continue.
"The price of a gallon of gas in Los Angeles today for regular is something like 3.93 a gallon," explains MTA spokesperson Mark Littman.
"So for like a third of what it costs you for a gallon of gas you can ride on the bus and train system here."
That simple math means that more Californians will be willing to give up their love of the road for some much needed relief at the pump.
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