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Gas prices impacting the public transportation industry

Posted at 6:58 PM, Mar 04, 2022

Gas prices are breaking records almost daily and it’s taking a toll on other industries. Public transportation is one industry affected.

San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority (SLO RTA) officials say they are already going over the gas budget they had set aside for this year.

“I don’t think anybody was expecting gas prices to be where they are right now," said Omar McPherson, operation manager for SLO RTA.

To compensate for the increase in gas prices, RTA says they’re turning to funds left over from other areas to compensate for the over-budget on gas.

SLO RTA says the increase in gas prices has resulted in an increase in people using public transportation.

“27% increase in ridership over last year," said McPherson.

“It’s definitely a deal. It’s less than three dollars for a ride from SLO to Atascadero, pretty sure it’s more than that to drive," said Atascadero resident Kathy Lachaine.

These types of buses are powered by diesel and Friday alone diesel saw the record high of $5.53 compared to just one week ago being $5.26 per gallon according to Triple-A.

“The cost of fuel has gone up tremendously as you are aware, but as public transit, we don’t pay the same price as the general public because we buy more in bulk," said McPherson.

SLO RTA officials say this wouldn’t be the first time they see a jump in people transitioning to public transportation.

“If we look back in history, the last time was in 2012 or 2013 where the gas price went over $4.50 we saw a huge increase in passengers year over year from 2013-2015-2016," said McPherson.

The difference now is there are other challenges for transit companies including COVID-19 and driver shortages.

RTA says that riding fares have not increased since 2017 and as of now they don’t see the gas prices affecting the rider.