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RTD ridership, scooter use went up with gas prices, but there could be several reasons why

As gas prices crested in Colorado over in recent months, more people rode transit and took rideshare scooters and bikes. But gas prices might be just one factor.

DENVER — As gas prices crested in Colorado over the late spring and early summer, more people rode transit and took rideshare scooters and bikes, according to an analysis of ridership data by 9NEWS.

Compared to 2021, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) saw a 41% increase in ridership in March, a 39% increase in April and a 35% increase in May. RTD reported more than 5 million boardings across its system in May, the latest data available from the transit agency.

But did gas prices play a role in people’s decision making?

“The answer is a solid maybe,” RTD spokeswoman Pauline Haberman.

“Gas prices sometimes affect that and sometimes not.”

Haberman said a mix of different factors influence people’s decisions to ride transit including seasonality, the level of service and even something as simple as an event.

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Haberman said there isn’t a solid correlation because in 2014 when gas prices dropped, ridership remained the same.

People also flocked to sharable scooters and e-bikes as gas prices soared this summer. On the weekend of June 24, when gas prices in Colorado were near their highest in recent memory, the rideshare data company Ride Report found dockless scooter and bicycle rides were up 101% from 18,000 trips to 36,000, according to spokeswoman Nelle Pierson. Trips in the city’s Opportunity Zones, which include some neighborhoods with lower incomes were up 76%.

It's important to point out that weekend in question also included a Stanley Cup Final game in downtown Denver.

Pierson’s company tracks the data from scooter companies and gives it to city and regional planners to help them make better decisions about bicycle and other infrastructure.

“We know that something like transportation change requires such a shift in behavior. It requires doing something new and uncomfortable. But we know that when you get out there and you experience firsthand the joy, the freedom, the breeze, just this sense that you’re out in your community, the more likely it is to stick.”

Ride Report’s data shows that in the second quarter of 2022, people averaged 16,882 trips each day on dockless bikes and scooters. That’s up from about 9,000 trips in Q2 of 2021.

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