Travel on all roads dropped 2.1% in the first four months of 2008, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Wherever people can take public transit, they are doing so. Even before the biggest gas-price hikes, a Congressional Budget Office study of California freeways from 2003 to 2006 showed that the number of freeway trips went down 0.7% for every 50-cent increase in gas prices but only in areas near public transit. Cities are struggling to keep up. BART, the San Francisco Bay Area rail system, removed seats to open up more standing room. In Boston, where turnpike use declined by 600,000 cars in May, officials are pleading with public-transit passengers to travel at nonpeak times.
With reporting by Maya Curry