More people are choosing public transport as gas prices remain high

More and more people are turning to public transit as gas prices hover around $5 a gallon across the region.

The Westmoreland County Transit Authority has seen a 30% increase in bus ridership since gas prices started to climb, said Ashley Cooper-Brounce, the authority’s deputy director.

“We just looked at the last three months – March, April and May – compared to the same months in 2021. We really noticed the uptick towards the start of March when gasoline prices really took off. started to increase,” she said, adding that the WCTA expects ridership to continue to increase.

“We kept the traffic going for months and months. (Recently) our Route 9, Latrobe-Derry Area, had 35 passengers on the bus, and that’s unheard of. So we’re certainly linking that to high gasoline prices.

Alan Blahovec, the authority’s chief executive, said he believed a combination of higher petrol prices and more people returning to work were to blame for the increase.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit saw ridership roughly double in April from a year earlier, spokesman Adam Brandolph said, though he couldn’t say exactly what was driving the demand.

“In April, we averaged over 111,000 weekday passengers on bus, rail and incline,” Brandolph said. “Buses had an average of 104,000 weekday riders in April, twice as many riders as in April 2021. Rail ridership averaged 6,200 weekday riders in April, slightly more than in 2021 .

“There were around 750 weekday runners on the Mon Incline, about the same as the year before, to account for the rest.”

“Save as much as you can”

By taking an express bus to Pittsburgh from a parking lot along Route 30 at Carpenter Lane in North Huntingdon, Jennifer Lepley of North Huntingdon said she not only saved money on gas, but also on wear and tear on his car.

“It’s cheaper when you add gas and the (cost of) parking” all day in Pittsburgh, Lepley said.

Along with the cost, there’s a chance to decompress on the bus from the stresses of the working day, before starting the second job at home, especially when she has young children, said Tracy Plassio of North Huntingdon.

“There is no driving on the Parkway East. It’s just easier,” Plassio said.

Pande Suanjaya, 39, has been on at plank a Red Line form headed for North of Pittsburgh Shore after car park his 2020 Toyota camry in the To park and Stroll plot in Dormont. He has been with his spouse and 3- and 5 years girls.

“With gas at $5 a gallon, you have to save as much as you can,” he said. “Plus, parking is free here. When driving downtown, you have to pay for parking. If I’m just going downtown to enjoy it, I’d rather park elsewhere and take the T.”

Suanjaya’s wife, Diana Davidson, 33, from Dormont, said she preferred to take the T since she was at university, but really enjoys it now. Davidson said she and her husband drive less often due to high gas prices.

“If you think about it, two tanks of gas is now about $140, and we have one of the most fuel-efficient cars out there, a Toyota Camry. So that’s just ridiculous,” Davidson said. just can’t imagine having an SUV or a truck.”

Danielle Kaminski, 24, from Mount Lebanon, is a student at Ohio State Law School and has a summer job as a lawyer at the law firm Bordas and Bordas Downtown. She parks her 2008 Hyundai Accent at Dormont Park and Ride and takes the Red Line into town.

“I’m definitely saving money,” Kaminski said. “I don’t drive in town. And then you sit in traffic. So not only do you save money on gas prices to get there, but you also sit in traffic and have the air conditioning on.

Others are still rolling

Despite $5 prices, gasoline demand remains strong, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told the Tribune-Review.

“If rising prices finally start to dampen demand, we might see some respite, but for now it looks like Americans are holding up to the records,” he said.

In a tweet on Thursday, De Haan said that for the first time since May, the national average gasoline price saw a modest decline of less than a cent per gallon the previous day.

“We should drop below $5 next week or so, stations (reluctant) a bit to drop prices too much but with high volatility,” he tweeted.

Despite the high prices, many people said they weren’t changing their driving habits.

“I’m one to say if I want something, I’ll just go get it,” Lori Wisniewski, 43, of Natrona Heights said after pulling into her local McDonald’s in a 2022 Toyota Corolla.

Wisniewski, who works for UPMC Primary Care, said it helped the car get good gas mileage, but even so, she said, it would still drive where it wanted to go.

“I have my car to enjoy, and that’s what I’m going to do,” she said. “I don’t want to pay so much, but what am I going to do? »

Inside McDonald’s, Roseann Sekelsky, 74, a retired human resources worker from New Kensington, said petrol prices were impacting the family budget, but she and her husband were still driving their 2002 PT Cruiser.

“We don’t stop and think, ‘Well, let’s not do this. It will take too much gas. We do the things we want to do,” Sekelsky said.

However, she said, the $5-a-gallon price could impact the couple’s summer vacation plans.

“My son lives in Baltimore. If I was thinking of taking a trip there, maybe we should consider taking the train,” Sekelsky said.

Also at McDonald’s, Jim Norris, 77, of Natrona Heights, said high gas prices hadn’t caused him to reconsider his summer vacation plans.

“I’ll probably be driving in Niagara Falls this summer,” Norris said. “It’s about five hours from here. I drive slowly, so I get good mileage, more or less.

In Taranto, Deleice Shields, 62, was waiting at a bus stop at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Lock Street. She said she was part of a one-car family and was glad she took a Pittsburgh Regional Transit bus to her job as a production line worker for American Beverage. Co. in Oakmont.

“It’s ridiculous,” Shields said. “With covid, you would think (petrol prices) would go down. It works well for me. I don’t drive, so I’m happy — and so are my pockets.

Melvin Z. Madore