By Matthew Harang

In a trend that has worsened over the past several years, ever-increasing gas prices are now approaching 5 dollars per gallon in many Southern California communities. The average gas price for Los Angeles County is $4.36, much higher than the national average of $3.73. These mark the highest prices since July 2008. L.A. is not alone, as gas premiums have risen steadily nationwide, with many places reaching all time record prices. Long Islanders in New York are already paying over 5 dollars per gallon.

With this steep incline, many people are being forced to manage their finances more closely, cutting down on luxuries, including extra mileage whenever possible.One way to cut down on gas expenses, of course, is to use public transportation. Luckily, Los Angeles County Metro has steadily been improving its transit systems over the past couple decades. More and more people are at least considering utilizing public transit. Rail lines are growing in size and popularity, with the Expo Light Rail scheduled to open soon, connecting Downtown to Culver City. As public transit improves, it is becoming a much more viable option for commuters. Recent developments in Downtown have made it a true city center: from entertainment, to culture to regional transit hub.

In the past L.A. has not boasted a great transit system by any means. In fact, it was the lack of continuity and regularity that had forced resident to become so reliant on personal automobiles. However, efforts such as the Expo Line, which will eventually route all the way to Santa Monica, will improve the growing network. The Gold Line Extension and the Crenshaw Line will connect commuters to the Inland Empire and LAX, respectively, over the next few years. In addition, the Downtown Regional Connector Transit Corridor, which hopes to link key transit lines by 2018, will make it easier for individuals to switch from vehicles to other alternatives, as gas seems to be going nowhere but up.

With some experts expecting gas to reach an arm and two legs, (or 5 dollars per gallon), by summer, Angelinos and residents across Southern California are planning ahead. Some residents are already transitioning, using transit some days, and commuting by cars other days. Other residents are moving into neighborhoods that are serviced by light rail and subway lines due to the convenience of transit. The urban landscape is transforming in Los Angeles. Many would have never guessed that public transit would reach this level so soon. What is next… less traffic? Dream on.

(Photo credit: Renee Martinez)