High gas prices driving many to change the way they get around

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – More San Diegans are ditching their cars after weeks of high gas prices. KUSI's Bridget Naso caught up with some of them, and when you hear how much they're saving, you just might do the same.

When prices at the pump topped $4.30 per gallon, Russ McElmury says he decided alternative transportation was the only way to go. He rides the bus from Rancho Bernardo to Old Town. It takes 20 more minutes, but the savings are worth it.

“Instead of putting $200 worth of gas per week in my car, I'm spending $35 on the bus,” says McElmury, “so it makes a big difference.”

Michael Armistead takes two types of transportation to avoid the automobile.

“I used to drive my vehicle in, I live right off of Grossmont Center,”says Armistead, “and to save money and get out a little bit more, I've been riding my bike and using the trolley to get in to work.”

They aren't the only ones making the switch. Trolley and bus ridership is up about 8 percent across the board, according to Rob Schupp of the Metropolitan Transit System.

We caught up with a SANDAG iCommute Van Pool arriving Downtown from Murrietta. The group shares a sponsored van, this one by Enterprise.

“What we do is provide a $400 per month subsidy for those folks who want to participate in the van pool,” says Dan Martin of iCommute.

The sponsor covers the cost of the van and insurance, then the riders split the cost of gas.

Peggy Cooper has been van pooling for nearly 15 years. She estimates she saves between $3,000 and $4,000 per year. “It's a big difference for us,” she said.

Melissa Robinson agrees. “I just started in February and it's been very beneficial. I've saved a couple hundred dollars per month on wear and tear on my car and also in gas.

Vinnie Cicero, a trolley rider for four years now, says he's made the move to alternative transportation for good. “It's such a habit, I don't miss the car at all,” he said.

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