A month ago I posted an update showing recent growth in the use of public transportation in Idaho's Treasure Valley in a story titled - Gas Prices Curbing Use? Based on a new press release from Valley Regional Transit, it appears that the growth is still accelerating.
According to the release, Inter-county bus service (between Canyon County and Ada County) use has grown 78% in the October 2007-May 2008 as compared to the same period a year earlier (11,338 rides in April 2007 versus 5904 in April 2007). Wow! This is great news for our air quality and fuel conservation. The Boise bus system ridership jumped 7.3% in the same periods.
Once again I acknowledge that higher gas prices have difficult and disproportionate impacts on some people, but at a macro level I do believe that the market impact is significant enough to shift behaviors in a positive direction - conservation, investments in alternatives, increase in housing density, etc. These behavior shifts are the reason that I have long supported an increase in gas tax to fund alternatives. Had we done this back when gas prices were low, we would have many more options available today. Our short term focus in America and in Idaho is costing us now. When will we learn that the future requires investment.