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Train stations see possible increase in traffic as gas prices rise

Posted at 10:14 AM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 13:14:09-04

While gas prices continue to rise, some people are opting to use the train to bypass those costs.

The Pacific Surfliner hits cities along the coast, making stops in San Luis Obispo all the way down to San Diego. Without it, some passengers contemplate not even making their trip at all, unable to rely on a car with gas prices at the rates they are now.

"I probably wouldn't have gone. I'd feel really bad but it’d be hard to find the means to go," said Sofi Hernandez, a Cal Poly student on her way to Los Angeles to visit family.

Hernandez and Griffin Dyal, another Cal Poly student, are both hoping to save a few bucks by using the Amtrak train.

"It'll be at least 80 dollars saved because all the cars I have at home are massive gas guzzlers," explained Dyal.

Amtrak officials are looking into whether increased ticket sales are connected to fuel prices, but they don’t have those numbers just yet. Local workers say they’re seeing an increase in every departure.

The train ride, which oftentimes is longer than a car trip, isn’t scaring people off.

"It's cheaper, it's efficient, yes it’s a long long way to go but I'm happy to take the train back down," said Shayna Rutman, another train passenger.

Rutman was on her way to San Diego, which is roughly an 8-hour train ride but believes it's worth the money she is saving in gas.

While Amtrak hasn’t yet confirmed whether the gas prices have had an impact on their ticket sales, multiple SLO train station workers say, in their experience, they’ve already seen a noticeable increase. One engineer described the LA to San Diego route as only standing room available in recent days.

They expect foot traffic to go up even more if gas prices stay where they are.

The Pacific Surfliner serves 37 different stations south of San Luis Obispo but there are trains headed north as well. Ticket prices vary based on destination and departure date.