Fuel prices won’t be dropping anytime soon, so many are looking for opportunities to drive less.

Gabriela Romero said she got rid of her vehicle in December due, in part, to the high price of gas.

“I got rid of my van,” she said “I took that money, and now I take the train and the bus everywhere right now.”

She calls it a tough decision.

“In the winter I was not happy about it, but now that it’s warmer, I am OK.”

Others said they’ve kept their cars but aren’t using them as much.

“That’s part of it,” said Romero. “Transit is just a great way to get around the city, and good for the environment. But lately, gas is even crazier than usual.”

According to Grand River Transit, there’s been an increase in ridership over the last several months.

But how much of that is because of fuel costs, they’re not sure.

“It’s really hard to determine how much of our ridership is attributed to that change, although I suspect some of it is,” said Neil Malcolm, the acting director of transit services for the Region of Waterloo. “Ridership has gone up, I think largely attributed to the provincial reopening [and] restrictions lifting.”

So how much can people save by taking public transit?

“My insurance was $200 and then my gas was at least $50 a week, and that was just driving to work and back,” said Romero. “If I want to go anywhere else it’s even more.”

She said she’s saving hundreds of dollars a month, and her unlimited monthly transit pass costs as much as a single tank of gas.

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“A pass is just $90 a month,” Romero explained. “I take the bus and train. I can even get to Cambridge.”

Transit officials said they won’t be surprised if they see ridership numbers go up if fuel prices stay sky-high.

“People will look at this as another choice,” Malcolm said. “I could buy a monthly transit pass for as much as one tank of gas. I think it makes people ask if transit is a viable alternative.”

GO TRANSIT RIDERSHIP BOOST

Go Transit has also seen an increase in ridership which they say is at least partly due to the surge in gas prices.

Metrolinx shared the following information with CTV News:

  • Ridership is at about 35% of pre-pandemic levels and UP Express is up at 40-45%.
  • We believe higher fuel prices are encouraging some customers to park their vehicles and hop on a GO train or bus. Some of them are telling our staff they’re returning to GO Transit for the first time since the pandemic began – while others say, they’re taking transit for the first time.
  • As a result of these fuel prices, some customers have asked whether they can expect their GO fares to increase to offset the increased costs. There are no immediate plans to increase GO fares – and PRESTO fares haven’t changed since 2019 on GO Transit.
  • Fuel costs make up about 10% of Metrolinx’s operating budget and given how much fuel Metrolinx purchases – 83 million liters of diesel fuel annually – we have access to financial tools such as hedging to reduce the risk. These tools help us provide the best use of taxpayer dollars – and allow our bus and rail teams to budget with a greater sense of certainty.


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