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Money Minute: High gas prices drive more to take the bus [Video]

Gas isn’t getting any cheaper. The average pump price nationwide has jumped 12 cents per gallon over the last two weeks.

As a result, we’re seeing one of the biggest spikes in public transportation ridership in more than half a century.

Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation last year, the second-highest total since 1957, as gas prices continued climbing, the American Public Transportation Assn. reported.

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Ridership was up last year 2.3% from 2010, with the increase spread across large, medium and small communities. Only ridership in 2008, when gas prices rose to more than $4 a gallon, beat 2011’s total, the organization said.

“Two top reasons for the increased ridership are higher gas prices and in certain areas, a recovering economy with more people returning to work,” said Michael Melaniphy, the association’s
president and chief executive.

Unfortunately, the increasing ridership comes at the same time when many mass-transit systems -- including a number in Southern California -- are cutting back on service because of budget cuts. It’s a sad case of rising demand and dwindling supply.

This is precisely the time when government authorities at all levels should be focusing on developing public-transportation options in anticipation of continued growth in demand.

That is, unless anyone thinks gas is going to be significantly less expensive in years ahead.

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