We’ve been trying at the newspaper to measure and explain the changes afoot as the price of energy soars. My colleague Lloyd Jojola had a great piece this morning looking at bus ridership, which has exploded:
One commuter route has seen passenger loads more than double in the past couple months.
ABQ Ride boardings surpassed 909,000 in May, an 8 percent increase compared with the same month last year. But more marked increases have occurred on bus routes that largely serve commuters, causing the transit agency to make changes to accommodate more ridership.
“Our bigger increases have been in the commuter routes, and they have been over the last couple of months vs. the first part of the fiscal year,” said Art Martinez, a Transit Department spokesman. “We were definitely seeing steady growth, but we’re seeing spikes in the last couple of months.”
We’re in uncharted territory here with respect to the elasticity associated with rising gas prices. There’s good evidence (see this CBO study, for example) that behavior changes in both short-term ways (choosing the transit alternative, driving more slowly) and longer term ways (buying a smaller car). In the past, the effects have been tiny. But so have the price increases, really. The price increases today are not tiny. I crave numbers to better measure the resulting effects right now. Every data point I’ve been able to find suggests the results this spring and summer have been much larger.