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'I don’t drive' | Record breaking ridership for MTS public transit as gas prices soar

MTS Ridership: Record breaking ridership, is it due to gas prices.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As prices for gasoline continue to take a growing toll on our wallets, many San Diegans are turning to public transit to get some relief. 

“It’s a major resource for me getting to and from work,” said J.C. Polk, who rides the trolley from San Ysidro to Mission Valley every day for work. “Not only is it more economical, but sometimes in certain cases because of traffic and things like that, it can be more dependable.” 

More San Diegans are feeling the same, especially with skyrocketing gas prices. 

“I don’t drive,” said Clairemont resident Mark Henderson. “I just take the bus. I ride it frequently especially for work and stuff.” 

MTS reports that a couple of weeks ago ridership hit a new record high since the pandemic began of over 204,000 passenger trips per day for buses and trolleys combined. 

“There is a correlation between growing ridership in recent times that we’ve seen and the gas prices,” said Mark Olson, spokesperson for MTS. “There’s more of those riders that were driving and then they see transit as a viable option for them, so they’re looking to take advantage of that and take advantage of the savings.” 

Pre-pandemic ridership averaged about 285,000 passenger trips per day, so it’s not back at that level yet, but it’s getting there. 

“A lot more people are starting to come back to transit,” said Olson. “They’re getting more comfortable understanding our cleaning procedures and everything else, and know that it’s a safe, reliable and affordable way to get around.” 

When it comes to sky high gas prices, people are finding that public transit is a way to avoid paying more at the pump. 

“We look at a random trip from El Cajon into downtown San Diego,” said Olson. “That can cost people upwards of $20 a day just for that commute.  You look at transit? You are going to max out at $6 per day unlimited rides on the bus and trolley all day long.” 

MTS has a Commute Cost Calculator tool that can be used to compare the cost of driving versus using public transit. 

“You can’t control gas prices,” said Olson. “But you can control how you get around and how you commute.” 

WATCH RELATED: Gov. Newsom proposes $9 billion in tax refunds to address rising gas prices (March 2022)

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