Paul Krugman ponders the reason that conservatives are so enamored of the idea that speculators are driving up the price of oil:

The odds are that we’re looking at a future in which energy conservation becomes increasingly important, in which many people may even — gasp — take public transit to work. I don’t find that vision particularly abhorrent, but a lot of people, especially on the right, do.

And indeed — gasp — according to an article in The New York Times, “Gas Prices Send Surge of Riders to Mass Transit”:

Mass transit systems around the country are seeing standing-room-only crowds on bus lines where seats were once easy to come by. … “In almost every transit system I talk to, we’re seeing very high rates of growth the last few months,” said William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association.

The sudden jump in ridership comes after several years of steady, gradual growth. Americans took 10.3 billion trips on public transportation last year, up 2.1 percent from 2006. Transit managers are predicting growth of 5 percent or more this year, the largest increase in at least a decade.

It must be a socialist plot!

Unfortunately, cities and regions are short on the money needed to expand their service, as the article documents. So let’s push Congress and the candidates to match the new ridership with new funding.