High Gas Prices Pump More Business Into CTA

Biloxi (WLOX) --  The Coast Transit Authority is enjoying a big jump in business, and officials believe soaring gas prices may be the reason.

Based on the latest ridership report, 57,650 people rode the CTA buses in February. That's 35-percent more than this time last year. In fact, it's nearly 10-percent higher than pre-Katrina levels.

"Anytime gas prices spike, we get an increase in telephone calls from people inquiring about the service.  They're looking to see what services we have that they may be able to take advantage of," said CTA Director Kevin Coggin. "That's certainly been the case recently. It has helped us drastically increase our ridership."

Coggin says with rising gas prices, riding the bus can be quite a bargain.

"Of course people's pocketbook is the main thing," Coggin said. "We can save them a lot of money. They can ride the bus service all month for $45.00. That's less than one tank of gas. It's safe, it's convenient, it's comfortable, and the buses are air-conditioned. We're starting to get more buses on-line now, which are more comfortable than our older buses."

Coggin says ridership is the best in ten years, despite the fact that the Beachcomber route along Highway 90 is still not in service.