Gas prices lead to spike in bus riders

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This week, gas prices are expected to reach $4 a gallon nationwide.

That's one of the major reasons people are opting for alternative forms of transportation,   whether it be train, bus or bike.

Three to four times a week, Anthony Robinson catches the Metrolink for a ride to work from Rock Island to Bettendorf.

"The bus drivers are friendly,” said Robinson. “They get everybody there at a decent, fair time."

Riding the bus eliminates the cost of paying for gas, which has been steadily increasing in price for the last several months.

"Nobody wants to pay $4 a gallon for gas," he said.

It's one of several factors leading to a 10-percent increase among Metrolink riders every month and a similar increase among Citibus riders.

Passenger rail's seeing a significant jump in ridership as well.

"Economy, fuel prices,” said Jennifer Garrity, with Metrolink.  “There are a lot of people concerned about the environment."

But, the transition from car to bus isn't always the easiest one to make.

"Once you take that first step of getting on the bus, you see how easy and convenient, reliable it is,” said Garrity. “It can take you, maybe 20 minutes to get where you need to go."

As for religious riders like Anthony, it doesn't take any convincing.

"If it wasn't for public transportation, I wouldn't be able to get back and forth to work. I'd have to beg people for rides and give away half my paycheck."

Metrolink is working on technology to add Smartphone apps for customers by this summer.

They're also looking to possibly expand some of their more popular routes, like the downtown ones.

Amtrak in Galesburg saw an 85-percent increase in ridership between 2006 and 2011.

Quad Cities Passenger Rail Coalition Spokesperson, Paul Rumler, says the spike in riders was a deciding factor in bringing passenger rail to the Quad Cities.