As gas prices rose to more than $4 a gallon last year, something else was on the rise: ridership on the MBTA.
The transit authority announced yesterday that the average number of weekday riders on the authority's trains, buses, and boats rose 4.3 percent in 2008, setting a new record.
"We are very pleased that an average of nearly 1.3 million riders a day last year chose the T as their preferred method of travel," MBTA general manager Daniel Grabauskas said in a statement.
"This year, we'll continue to focus our efforts on improving the services that are attracting so many people to our trains and buses."
Average weekday ridership declined in seven out of the 12 months of 2007. But ridership increased in every month of 2008, except December, when it dropped 1.5 percent.
The MBTA said rising unemployment, a soft economy, and dramatically falling gasoline prices were probably factors in the December decline.
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas was $1.81 yesterday. Gas skyrocketed to $4.09 a gallon in early July, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.