The bus is getting crowded (but free)

So a couple of major news outlets are reporting on this wee ray of sunshine: More people are getting out of their cars and onto transit! Here’s the source: a report from the American Public Transportation Association stating that crazy gas prices have compelled Americans to ride transit 6.5 percent more frequently in the third quarter of this year than we did in the third quarter of 2007. That’s the biggest quarterly increase in 25 years.

I must say that this summer’s gas-price spike caused the biggest, swiftest groundswell of eco-change on a personal level that I’ve ever witnessed. People’s kids were walking to school, cops were walking their beats, home-buying patterns changed…we really got smarter about a whole bunch of things, simply because of $4 gas.

Of course, gas doesn’t cost four bucks anymore. It’s not quite down to the levels I fondly remember from my college years, when we’d pay 88 cents a gallon to fill up the minivan tank, hop in, and drive to New Orleans for the hell of it. But it’s mighty low, and I have found myself thinking some bad thoughts. "Hmm…might be a good time to go camping in West Texas…wouldn’t cost that much to drive out there…"

Meanwhile, the Charlottesville Transit System is offering a (not-very-well-publicized) Fare Free Day tomorrow (that’s Wednesday, the 10th) in hopes that people will put aside their bad thoughts and renew a commitment to greener transportation. I know this is the right thing to do. I know it’s good that we’ll probably get some money for a regional rail system. I really am glad. But cheap gas is just so seductive, y’know?

Anybody taken a gratuitous road trip lately? Stopped carpooling? Or did the pricey days of summer get you started on new habits that you’re sticking with, even though prices have dipped?

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