More people sharing rides to work, taking transit

Madeline Tallman, special to

WASHINGTON – More Americans are sharing rides to work or taking public transportation rather than driving alone, according to new Census data.

Rising gas prices and the poor economy most likely prompted the change, a USA TODAY analysis found.

The country’s major metropolitan areas saw increases in group commuting — taking buses, subways, trains or carpools — in more than 100 cities from 2005 to 2011.

The American Public Transportation Association reported this week the sixth consecutive quarterly increase in ridership, with subway and train riders escalating the most.

Average national gas prices are currently higher than a year ago. The WTOP Pain in the Gas Survey finds the price to be 34 cents higher. Nationwide, it’s 26 cents higher. Analysts say the price at the pump is a heavy contributor to the rise in public transit-using commuters.

Generational differences also may be adding to the new data results. Reconnecting America, a non-profit that focuses on transit development, said millennial-aged workers do not have the same desire for a driver’s license as previous generations. Public transportation, it said, also allows for use of cellphones, e- readers and other technology — things that can’t be done while driving.

Baby Boomers, while starting to wind down their presence in the work force, also are trying out alternative ways of commuting, the organization said.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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