Gas prices are seen at a petrol station in New York
Gas prices are seen at a petrol station in New York, Feb. 22, 2011. REUTERS

Americans will turn to public transportation in record numbers as gasoline prices continue increasing, predicts American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Public transit is the quickest way for people to beat high gas prices if it is available, a report from the non-profit group says.

A study by APTA shows that if regular gas prices reach $4 a gallon across the nation, an additional 670 million passenger trips could be expected, resulting in more than 10.8 billion trips per year.

If pump prices jump to $5 a gallon, APTA expects an additional 1.5 billion passenger trips, resulting in more than 11.6 billion trips a year. And if prices were to soar to $6 a gallon, expectations go as high as an additional 2.7 billion passenger trips, resulting in more than 12.9 billion trips per year.

The volatility of the price at the pump is another wake up call for our nation to address the increasing demand for public transportation services, said APTA President William Millar. We must make significant, long-term investments in public transportation or we will leave our fellow Americans with limited travel options, or in many cases stranded without travel options.

APTA says it supports the Obama Administration's transportation authorization blueprint and proposal which increases public transit investment by 128 percent over the next six years. This type of investment would help close the gap for the 46 percent of Americans who do not have access to public transportation.

APTA comprises of more than 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services, and high-speed rail.

According to APTA, some of the public transit systems across the country reached double digits in February as compared to last year. For example; the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority in Pompano Beach, FL increased by 10.6 percent; Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority of Philadelphia, PA rose by 10 percent; and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority of Oakland, CA increased by 14 percent.

We saw this same story in 2008 and several times before where high gas prices caught our country without adequate travel options, says Millar. However, this time we can write a happy ending and make sure investment is made to expand public transportation so that more Americans have a choice in how they travel.