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Bus ridership is up in Michigan (but so are fuel prices)

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)
"Get on the bus" that's a refrain heard more and more in Michigan as people are forced to find other ways to get around as gasoline prices move into record high territory.

It appears rising gasoline prices are getting more people to ride public transportation in Michigan.  But that’s a double edged sword for local bus systems.  

It will be a few months before all the numbers are in, but Clark Harder with the Michigan Public Transit Association says, demand for bus service is up.   He says more and more people are opting to take the bus, because it’s getting too expensive to fill up their own gas tank. 

But Harder says bus operators also have to pay more for fuel. 

“Clearly we’re seeing increased demand. And while we like to see that, we like to see people on our buses. We’re also faced with a new problem of added costs of gasoline.”

Harder says there’s another problem on the horizon for Michigan public transit.   

The legislature is considering cutting $10 to 20 million in state funding for operating and capital expenses for public transit.   He says that may also cost the state some federal matching funds.  Harder says the full effect of those possible cuts might not be felt for another year or two.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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