Nationwide, "with seven consecutive quarters of ridership increases, it's obvious that public demand for public transit is growing," said Michael Melaniphy, chief executive and president of the American Public Transportation Association. "We continue to see that in areas where the local economy is improving and new jobs are being added, public transportation ridership is up." APTA's new report indicates that national public transit use rose 2.6 percent in the first three quarters of this year compared to last year.
"What's driving a lot of this is these gas prices are just so high. We're a relatively high-unemployment areas, so it's pretty tough for a lot of folks, and riding a bus is a good alternative," said Marion Ashley, a Riverside County Supervisor and a Riverside Transit Agency official. Although local Southern California officials attribute the growth to high gas prices, the long-term trend locally (ridership has increased by 27 percent in Riverside since 2002) and nationally seems to indicate that transit use has continued to increase despite short-term fluctuations in gas prices.