There are many signs that people are generally ready to make a significant departure from the status quo when it comes to transportation. Similar to how the appeal of large-lot exurban McMansions dwindled when the housing bubble burst any appeal of driving to accomplish every task in life is diminished when gas prices increase substantially. As The Washington Post reported recently the rapid rise in gas prices is also taking a toll on the region’s economy.
As we noted recently it’s unlikely that we’re going to be able to significantly move away from our current sources of fuel in the immediate future but we can make some behavioral changes to mitigate the hit to our wallets. As it did during the last major spike in 2008 transit ridership has increased around the region (VRE is breaking records regularly) and around the nation. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) predicts that $5/gallon gasoline would result in an extra 1.5 billion trips on public transit per year (for 11.6 billion trips in total).
Mainstreaming the idea that transportation is about more than just cars is a priority of current U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who has been a strong advocate for bus rail and bicycle projects during his tenure. At the National Bike Summit recently held here in Washington LaHood said the “next generation” of the country’s transportation will allow Americans the ability to live without a car.