Back to the train

The semester has started again, and so that means I'm back on the train soon. Looks like I'm far from alone.

The commuter railroad carried more than 4 million passengers in 2008, the first time it surpassed that mark in its 20-year history.

With 4.3 million passengers, Tri-Rail's ridership jumped nearly 23 percent over 2007. As gas prices tumbled below $2 a gallon, the number of weekday riders has dipped slightly but still hovers between 15,000 and 16,000 riders per day.

Ridership has more than doubled since 2005, after Tri-Rail finished building a second track, increased the number of weekday and weekend trains and added rush-hour service every 20 minutes.

"These statistics show that the trend of double-digit growth that we have experienced over the past three years is continuing," said Joseph Giulietti, Tri-Rail's executive director.
The interesting thing about these numbers is that Tri-Rail ridership grew even though it's a really limited system. In my own case, I have to drive to one station and take a shuttle bus from the other--the attitude of a lot of people is that if you have to drive that much anyway, you might as well drive the whole way, and I certainly understand that. It does take me longer, door-to-door, to get to work via the train than it does to drive, and with gas prices lower, it's not so clearly a financial deal to take the train. The only way it's a clear winner is on my sanity, which is enough to get me up a little earlier to stand on a platform, earbudded and carrying my laptop to work. See you later.

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