BOCA RATON, Fla. — The rising gas prices have drivers and commuters pondering alternative forms of transportation to save money.
Tri-Rail says ridership dropped by as much as 80 percent at the height of the pandemic.
The number of riders using the South Florida train, which serves from Mangonia Park to Miami International Airport, has been slowly returning.
Ridership peaked at about 10,000 riders a day as workers headed back into the office after coronavirus cases fell in recent months.
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Make Tri-Rail part of your daily routine, and don't sweat these rising gas prices.— Tri-Rail 😷 (@Tri_Rail) March 8, 2022
Fares start at $2.50. Discounted fares and passes are available for students, seniors, persons with disabilities and commuters.https://t.co/uYeBXzoDYp pic.twitter.com/kp1wUWxJyL
However, the recent fuel prices have caused Tri-Rail ridership to increase.
Officials said Wednesday they surpassed more than 11,000 riders a day for the first time since March 2020.
"We pretty much plateaued at about 10,000 riders a day," said Steven Abrams, executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority. "Now, we're seeing that jump to 11,000 and now this morning we're above 11,500."
Most Tri-Rail tickets now cost less than a gallon of gas with fares starting at $2.50.
"It's a great rate for the commuter to be able to jump on the train and take it instead of paying for gas, plus the wear and tear on your car," Abrams said.
Both Brightline and Palm Tran are also expecting more riders because of rising gas prices.
Palm Tran officials said ridership is still down 30 percent because of the pandemic but because of fuel prices, it will be launching a new marketing campaign targeting commuters.
"We're putting out a major marketing campaign to attract people to more of our commuter routes," said Clinton Forbes, the executive director of Palm Tran.
The Boca Tri-Rail station has been practically empty since the beginning of the pandemic, but parking spaces this week have been filling up as drivers feel the pain at the pump.
"I can save a lot more money taking the Tri-Rail," said rider Truth Love. "I would have driven if the prices of gas weren't so high."
Love brought his bike on board but left his car at home for his Wednesday trip to his doctor's appointment.
Miguel Isaval is also trying to save some money by taking the train to the airport.
"It's better to pay the $7 to go to Miami International with the train and Tri-Rail," Isaval said.
According to Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency (TPA), the average commute in Palm Beach County is 13.2 miles.
TPA officials said transit not only reduces gas consumption but also helps the environment.