Gridlock? Public transportation cuts services when commuters need it most

This summer has seen record ridership on public transportation: up 5.2% over the same period last year, as sky-high fuel prices force commuters to ditch their cars in favor of the bus or the train.

And yet, it's not enough to drive profits to our public transit systems. According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), only about 1/3 of the costs are covered by fares, and the rest come from public funds such as sales taxes -- which aren't exactly thriving now as consumers are tightening their purse strings.

So at a time when we're facing a fuel crisis on top of heightened concern for the environment, we want to encourage more people to take public transportation. But at the same time, public transit systems are being forced to cut routes and raise fares just to keep operating. For people just looking to save money on their way to work, this may be a rude awakening.

It's a hard enough transition to decide to park your car (permanently, that is) -- what will you do next if the bus stops coming to your neighborhood? Maybe the next step is to organize a carpool... to the nearest bus stop?

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