Signs Gas Prices Are Curbing Driving in Colorado

Surveys and transit ridership both show some signs, with significant caveats, of the limits of the appetite for gasoline in Colorado.

2 minute read

June 14, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A sign with gas prices all listed above $7.39 per gallon.

Gas prices have yet to reach California levels in Colorado, but drivers are nonetheless rethinking their habits. | Alex Millauer / Shutterstock

While high gas prices have historically shown just how stubborn drivers can be, there is usually some reduction of driving when gas prices spike. With many people emerging back into their normal day-to-day routines and making up for lost time with road trips and vacations after two long years of pandemic restrictions, the current high gas prices are less likely to produce outcomes in line with precedent.

With the uncertainty of mobility in 2022 in mind, Matt Bloom recently dug into the mood and trends of drivers in Colorado, where the average gas price recently hit $4.62 per gallon—the highest ever recorded in the state and a 40 percent increase over last year.

“As a result, roughly 67 percent of drivers have started to drive less, according to a AAA survey of Colorado residents,” reports Bloom. “Pain at the pump has forced some people to readjust their vacation plans, rethink their work commutes and cut back on the amount they’re saving each month.”

For another key metric, albeit one that does not necessarily reflect a direct connection to gas prices, transit ridership is on the rise in the Denver area, although still well below pre-pandemic levels. “Public transit ridership in the Denver area has seen a slight increase in ridership over recent months, but it remains below pre-pandemic levels. Metro area residents took 4.8 million trips via bus or train in March — a 42 percent jump over the same time in 2021, according to RTD’s latest ridership figures,” reports Bloom.

Still, “the Colorado Department of Transportation and Denver International Airport both reported near pre-pandemic passenger numbers on roads and airplanes over the recent Memorial Day holiday,” according to Bloom, so drivers aren’t exactly abandoning their vehicles.

Monday, June 6, 2022 in Colorado Public Radio

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