Gas Price Hikes Fuel Rise in Houston Carpooling

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(Houston — Laurie Johnson, KUHF News) This year's leap in retail gasoline prices could prompt more people to consider public transit alternatives. And that could add up to far more cost savings than you might think.

In a typical month, about 150 new members sign up for Houston's Commute Solutions carpool program. But from the end of March to the end of April, that number doubled.

And more people may be heading to the bus stops as an alternative as well.

Matill Williams, with the American Public Transportation Association, says the rise in gas prices means taking transit can lead to the biggest savings in three years.

"If someone is traveling by public transportation and they're living with one less car in their household, they can save over an average over about $10,000 a year just by taking public transportation. And that's broken down based on not only the high fuel costs, but also what people don't tend to of and that is the high cost of owning a car."

Of course, here in Houston people are reluctant to give up a vehicle altogether. It's a sprawling region and sometimes buses and rail just don't go to the places we need to get to. But Williams says commuters should think in what he calls multi-modal terms.

"Maybe the day when I don't have to pick up the kid, or maybe the day when I don't have to go to the grocery store, there might be a couple of days a week when I could take public transportation. There might a combination of...maybe I could take public transportation and then maybe my spouse or significant other can pick me up from the bus station or the train station."

If you're curious how much you could save by taking transit, METRO offers a commute calculator on their website