Gas prices turn more drivers into riders

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno Director of Transportation Ken Hamm said Fresno Area Express, or FAX, is expecting more riders as gas prices climb. "People are going to make choices to come back to transit, that's the bottom line," said Fresno Transportation Director Ken Hamm.

Fresno resident Glenn Brown has a car, but chooses not to drive it. "It sits in the driveway. I'd rather catch the bus. It's too much gas. Gas it too high," said Brown.

A report by the American Public Transportation Association shows if average gas prices hit $4 dollars a gallon country wide, it's expecting an additional 670 million passenger trips a year. At $5 a gallon, there would be an additional 1.5 billion passenger trips, and at $6, 2.7 billion trips.

Even at a $1.25, a FAX fare is a tough sell for some. "I just prefer driving. I get here faster. Doesn't take long," said Mavis Cainriolo, who drives to work in downtown Fresno.

Fresno attorney Jeff Roberts said he's familiar with FAX routes, but the bus just doesn't work for him. "I have to go a lot of different places, and they don't run according to my schedule, which changes everyday," said Roberts.

Right now, FAX is actually dealing with a decline. Hamm said a temporary 8 to 10 percent ridership decrease was projected after they raised fares in late January. Based on what they saw the last time gas prices spiked, FAX is expecting to bounce back sooner than later. "We're anticipating people might return to transit faster than they might have, if they were making it based on the fair decision," said Hamm.

While FAX hasn't seen the increase yet, Glenn Brown says he is already seeing new faces along his daily routes. "You see students, and then some business people with their briefcases," said Brown.

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