CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It's nearly 7 p.m. and the Concord Express bus may be dark inside, but riders like A.J. Strollo are seeing the light.
Strollo, and some of the other passengers, say they are saving gas money by taking Charlotte public transportation.
"Oh, it's got to be a good number," says Strollo. "It's definitely a factor." What would he spend on gas if he had to drive to work? "At least $20 a week, give or take, " he says.
CATS says ridership is up over a year ago. Overall numbers suggest about eight percent increases for all public transportation, but bus ridership is stronger. Up about 16 percent over a year ago.
"We are seeing a lot more people," said Olaf Kinard the CATS spokesperson, who takes the bus everyday and says he saves several hundred dollars a month, and only needs to fill up once a month. "If you used to have empty seats, now you have someone sitting next to you," Kinard says of his nightly commute.
Kinard also says ridership is up because the economy is growing, and more people are back to work.
Still, saving money is on many people's minds, not only on the bus, but also at the pump.
"I put in just enough money to get where I need to go," says Patsy Mack as put in a few dollars worth of gas at a station near South Charlotte. "Tomorrow when I go to work in South Carolina, I'll put in gas in South Carolina," Mack says.
Prices are much lower in South Carolina, and worth the drive for the savings.
Tarika Mason will also "shop" her gas. "Here it's 20 cents higher than my side of town," she said of the gas station near Woodlawn and Billy Graham. "I'm leaving," she said.
And while many people are opting for public transportation now, the cost of that may rise too. The Metropolitan Transit Commission will begin discussing planned fair hikes to the public in March.
It plans to vote on a 25 cent fare increase in April. The proposed increase is not in direct response to gas prices, it has been in the "policy" for several years, according to Kinard.