Gas prices lead to big spike in carpooling, bus riding | News
TAMPA, FLORIDA -- How does only having to drive into work every three or four weeks sound?
With Tampa Bay gas prices still sitting at more than $3.50 per gallon -- one dollar higher than this time last year according to Triple A -- a growing number of people are finding a way around the pain at the pump altogether.
Instead of facing her daily, hour-long commute from Dade City to downtown Tampa alone, Debra Whitworth is now carpooling with two others.
"I think you have to do whatever you can to save money," she said.
Whitworth estimates by only getting behind the wheel every third week, she'll keep an extra $2,000 in her pocket this year.
But people who carpool point out that savings isn't the only benefit.
"I can work on the computer, read the paper," said Kari Surratt, who also added it saves the extra miles and wear and tear from her car.
TBARTA, which runs a carpool program, saw the number of new people signing up more than double between February and March as gas prices spiked.
Florida Department of Transportation also has a program, where the number of carpoolers grew by nearly 1,500 between February and April.
"We think that the word is getting out to people that this is really a good lifestyle choice," said Amy Ellis, spokesperson for TBARTA.
It's not just carpooling, either.
In May, HART reports bus ridership was up 16% compared to the same time last year.
If you would like to get involved in a carpool program there are several options, depending on where you live.
Try one of these websites, where you enter where and when you commute, then they try to match you with someone: