Charting the Precise Relationship Between Gas Prices and Transit Ridership

When gas prices fall, discretionary transit riders also spend less on transit according to an analysis of credit and debit card bills by the JP Morgan Chase Institute.

2 minute read

July 14, 2016, 6:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


Gas and Bikes

Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious / Flickr

"For every dollar saved from lower gas prices at the pump, households decreased their spending on transit by some 14 cents,” stated Diana Farrell, president and CEO of the JPMorgan Chase Institute, a separate research arm of the bank.

 transit ridership in Chicago.

"In the two months that fuel prices have been well below $3 we have not seen any significant shifts on either the rail side or the bus side," says Brian Steele, a spokesman for the Chicago Transit Authority.

Indeed, CTA experienced a record number of rail passengers last year, but also saw bus ridership drop.

There may be better data for how higher gas prices affect transit ridership, according to Marshall-Genzer.

"When it’s over three dollars per gallon, then we do see riders starting to make those shifts," explained Robert Puentes, president and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation

Perhaps the JP Morgan Chase Institute could chart a relationship between transit payments and payments to transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft next as they would seem to be likely beneficiaries during Metro's service disruptions.

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