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Public transportation seeing an increase in riders as gas prices rise

Two public bus companies in Central Iowa have noticed the trend.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The national average price of gas is now over five dollars a gallon, according to AAA.

This increase in gas prices has led to more people turning to public transportation.

Both DART and Hirta said since April they have seen more people riding their buses.

"Our rates have gone up between 12 and 15 percent," said Louis Montoya, the chief planning officer of DART.

While this increase may sound small, Montoya said it is not in the slightest. 

"Last week we saw close to ten thousand people riding a day," Montoya said.

That was the most riders the company had seen since the spring of 2020. 

Similarly, Brooke Ramsey, business development manager with Hirta, said they have seen between an eight and nine percent increase in riders. 

As gas prices continue to increase, Montoya is hoping DART's ridership rates stay high as well. 

"We really want to see more people riding the bus because we think it's a very convenient and cost-effective service that we provide for the community," Montoya said.

One way the company plans to maintain this surge in ridership is by continuing their dollar-ride promotion. 

This promotional rate is slated to end later this month, but serves to show new and existing riders how simple, easy and cost-effective public transportation can be. 

"We've had a great response from our customers," Montoya said. "Which is very promising and we hope has given a lot of people a relief from their pocketbook."

When asked by Local 5 if DART plans to extend the promotion if gas prices remain high, Montoya said it was something they would have to consider.

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