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'It’s just so much cheaper' | Metro ridership sees big increases as gas prices continue to soar

According to the most recent records for WMATA, the Metro averaged over 183,000 rail riders on weekdays in the beginning of March.

WASHINGTON — As gas prices continue to soar higher, Metro ridership has seen its highest numbers of the year recently as people look for alternative ways to get around and save money.

As of Saturday, AAA data showed the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline at $4.33.

Just last month, the same figure was 85 cents cheaper.

While many drivers have been cutting back on driving and avoided filling up their tanks as a result of the high prices, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has seen some of the impact. 

With more people heading out as a result of recent warmer temperatures and declining COVID-19 cases, the rise in gas prices has only seemed to add to the ridership increases. 

According to the most recent records for WMATA, the Metro averaged over 183,000 rail riders on weekdays in the beginning of March.

For comparison, the highest daily number of riders this year prior to March was 170,000 on Feb. 23. 

Ridership only began to consistently see over 160,000 daily riders in mid-February.

Bus ridership has also seen gains this month, although not as drastic as Metro rail.

So far this month, the average weekday ridership is around 226,000 people.

The highest day of 2022 for bus ridership came on March 1 when 265,000 people rode on buses.

Despite the cold temperatures and snowy conditions on Saturday, some riders who spoke to WUSA 9 said they specifically took the bus or train to avoid needing to fill up with gas.

"I like to drive. I want to drive more but not with these prices," said JJ Shode, who got off the bus at the Silver Spring Metro stop in the afternoon. "I was going somewhere within the county and I thought I might as well take the Metro.”

Other riders echoed Shode's thoughts, including Cierra Milshap.

Instead of driving a car to see her parents on Saturday, she said the Metro provided a far cheaper option.

"Gas prices are $5. For me to take the Metro, it’s only $2 one way," she said. "It’s just ridiculously expensive and as human beings and adults, you have other things you have to pay for.”

Milshap said she has noticed more people on the bus and train as gas prices have crept higher and higher.

She told WUSA 9 that she was recently hoping to buy a car for herself, however, the spike in fuel prices made her push off the purchase.

"Once I saw how high the gas prices are, I was like I can’t afford that," Milsap said. 

Moving forward, she said she planned to continue relying on public transportation until gas prices decline. 

"Until I figure out more income, I’m going to take the Metro," Milsap said. 

RELATED: Uber adds fuel surcharge as gas prices soar

RELATED: Gov. Hogan, legislators agree to suspend Maryland gas tax for 30 days

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