Drivers encouraged to take mass transit

SOUTH PASADENA It's the third annual National Dump the Pump Day.

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As gas prices continue their historic climb, more and more commuters are turning to mass transit. The number of miles people have driven this year is down about 1 1/2 billion compared to last year.

Riders say they have no choice but to take mass transit with gasoline prices so high.

"Well, I started doing it when [gas] hit $4, well actually when it hit about $3.75 or so. Once it hit $4, for sure, I was adding more days, so I do it about four days a week," said Bob Gooian.

"Already been on my bicycle and I put over a good 20 or 30 miles in the past month. Gas prices are killing me and jobs are no better, so that's what it is," said Marcel Jonathan.

According to Automobile Club of Southern California, in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $4.63. In Orange County, drivers are paying an average of $4.60 a gallon. In the Inland Empire, the average price is $4.61 a gallon. In Ventura, it's $4.62 a gallon.

Transit agencies across the country are encouraging more ridership with the third annual Dump the Pump Day. In Southern California, officials are starting to see significant changes in commuter habits.

"Just in this last May, May 2007, when we compare that to 2008, our ridership is up six percent on our rail lines over what it was last year," said Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Roger Snoble. "And we've experienced big gains on the subway ridership and all of out rail ridership and all of our Metro Rapid buses as well."

For a lot of riders it's not just about the price of gas. They no longer have to pay for parking when they ride the train or the bus, and they don't have to put up with all the traffic.

Some commuters say they've made the switch to mass transit for good.

"I'm sticking with this. Yeah, no doubt," said Dave Starr. "It's no problem. You get used to it real quick."

More and more people are catching a ride on trains, buses and carpools -- reducing traffic and pollution.

There are some incentives Thursday for folks to get out of their cars and on to mass transit:


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