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People Worldwide Search for Cheaper Transportation

The cost of fuel is rising quickly, and people throughout the world are looking for cheaper ways to get to work and travel. VOA's Kent Klein looks at how people are being affected by these changes. (Part 2 of 5)

As gasoline prices soar, commuting habits are changing. In the developed world, that means fewer automobiles and more public transportation, or abandoning motor vehicles for bicycles. But higher fuel costs are hitting hardest in the developing world, where money is tight.

Joseph Muendo Musyoka lives in a Nairobi slum. He walks three hours between home and work each day. He can no longer afford public transportation. Joseph says life has become very hard. The oil prices have gone up, so he realized that it is better to walk, so he can keep some of that money for his daily use.

In much of the world, skyrocketing fuel prices are causing a search for solutions. In Indonesia and elsewhere, one answer is mass transit.

Jakarta commuter Risa Riana is leaving her car behind more frequently as gasoline becomes more expensive. Since the fuel price increase, she takes the bus more often.

But despite governments' best efforts, many people, like Ahmad Suyono of Jakarta, are resisting mass transit. He says he would like to use public transportation, but using his own car is more convenient.

Thailand has spent an enormous amount of money to build a Skytrain, a subway system, and a network of buses to relieve Bangkok's notorious traffic jams. More public transport is on the way. Many people take public transportation, but many remain in their cars.

Sue Bhuyatorn spends an average of two hours a day, driving 20 kilometers between her home and her job at the U.S. Embassy. She enjoys the safety and convenience of her car. And she sees no solution to Bangkok's traffic problems any time soon. "There is, theoretically, but it needs sacrifice, mutual sacrifice of everyone," she says.

In the United States, it's harder to find a seat on buses and trains these days. One dollar a liter for gasoline is the reason - everyone complains about the high gas prices.

The second-largest U.S. city, Los Angeles, is known for its motion picture industry, and for some of America's worst traffic. According to, the average Los Angeles driver spends three days out of each year stuck in traffic.

Despite recent improvements, public transportation in L.A. is not extensive enough for such a sprawling city, and Angelinos are reluctant to give up their cars.

But not Ramona Marks. She is one of a small but growing number of people who bike to work. She says she is not only saving money, she is also beating the frustration of driving on L.A.'s freeways. "I get to work invigorated," she said. "I feel like, 'Yeah, I just survived that!'"

For others, change is not by choice. In Kenya, Joseph Muendo Musyoka would like to ride the bus from his home in the Mukuru slum to his job.

But the round-trip would cost him $1.20, and he makes only $1.50 a day. On that, he supports an extended family of eight. Joseph is one of about one million people in Nairobi who earn about $1.50 a day.

Every day, he walks an hour and a half to work and an hour and a half home. He says walking three hours a day is hurting his health. But he has no choice. For now, he keeps walking and hoping that one day he will be able to afford something easier and better.