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As Gas Prices Go Up, Public Transit Agencies Prepare For More Riders

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Public transit agencies are watching ridership numbers as high gas prices could push more people to look to trains and buses as an alternative to driving.

The change isn't expected to be immediate, but rather over the next several months as drivers start to notice the cumulative costs of higher prices.

Already a driver filling up a 12-gallon car once a week in North Texas is paying $70 a month more than what they did last year. A monthly pass on Trinity Metro costs $80.

Routes that can replicate long commutes, including along I-35W, and the Trinity Railway Express commuter train would be expected to be the first to see new demand.

Accommodating new riders isn't an issue. Data from the North Central Texas Council of Governments shows average daily ridership through January is still down from post-pandemic levels. It's also less than half of all-time highs which occurred from late 2012-2014, the last time gas prices surged. About 15,660 people rode the Trinity Metro system daily in the month of January

The vice president of planning for Trinity Metro, Chad Edwards, said if routes started to fill up over time, the agency would start taking a closer look at locations and frequencies of their transit options.

"How do we serve the public using our system," he said is what the agency considers in planning. "And if 30 minutes or 15 minutes doesn't work for them, what are our other options?"

A spokesman for DART said planners would be watching more than 20 core frequent routes for any necessary changes.

While fuel prices are changing daily, fare changes for transit are expected to hold steady.

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