STOCKTON, California — For the first time ever, San Joaquin RTD in Stockton is offering a week of free bus rides.
In the past, they have only offered a single day. The so-called "Dump the Pump" promotion began June 12 and runs through June 18. However, it excludes their "Commuter" and "Van Go!" services.
Growing up in Los Angeles, riding the bus is essentially a way of life for Hector Valdovinos.
"Mostly everyday, everyday, everyday," said Valdovinos, who was waiting for the bus at a stop Tuesday along Pacific Avenue.
Working the overnight shift at a fitness club, Valdovinos doesn't own a car and said the bus is the way to go right now.
"It's important because you save so much money, and gas prices are so high," Valdovinos said.
Those record gas prices might also be leading to a rise in bus ridership. San Joaquin RTD said its latest numbers show a sharp uptick in ridership over a year ago.
For April this year, there were 164, 294 riders. In April last year, there were 124,777. The transit agency said that is a nearly 32% increase.
Right now, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gas in California stands at $6.43, according to AAA. It was $6.37 a week ago, $5.92 a month ago and $4.22 one year ago.
Johnny Garcia of Lodi, who is looking for work as a plumber, is trying to save money at the pump by combining his trips.
"Trying to do as many things as we're out, so we aren't constantly going out. You know what I mean?" Garcia said, as he was pumping gas in Lathrop.
Those money-saving efforts will likely be sticking around, because according to AAA, there's no relief in sight anytime soon.
"The cost of crude oil is over $120 per barrel. That's nearly double what we saw back in August. So, as long as the price of crude oil continues to be this high, we're going to continue to see gas prices elevated," said Aldo Vasquez, spokesperson for AAA Northern California.
With the cost of gas likely staying high for now, AAA has these tips to share to help people save on fuel costs.
- Keep your tires properly inflated
- Slow down and drive the speed limit
- Avoid idling to warm up your engine
- Use the cruise control to maintain a constant speed and save gas
"People can obviously do their research, find the gas stations in their area that have the cheaper gasoline. Obviously, sign up for rewards programs that a lot of gas stations offer. Go to those gas stations that are members only stores, like Costco and Sam's Club," Vasquez added.
Gasbuddy.com also allows you to search for the cheapest gas in your area.