EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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September 30, 2012

Rockingham Co. commuters more apt to drive alone

More commuters hit the road alone

DERRY — More Rockingham County workers are driving alone, defying state and national trends as gas prices rise, new U.S Census Bureau figures show.

Numbers released by the Census this month say 83.9 percent of Rockingham County workers are driving alone. That is up 0.1 percent from the 83.8 percent in last year’s report.

Donna Gray is among those workers driving alone, though not by choice. None of the Derry mother’s coworkers in Lowell live in Derry.

At home with her family it is different.

“We drive like a bus,” she said. “We make as many stops as we can.”

“Economically this is tough,” she said, nodding toward the gas pump. “We’re spending a lot more on gas. Now I put in $40. I’ll be lucky if I can get through the weekend on this.”

Nationally, fewer workers are driving alone – 76.4 percent, down 0.2 percent. That’s true in New Hampshire, too – 80.6 percent, down 1 percent.

Laura Bobroff of Derry, refueling in Londonderry last week, admitted it is very surprising to hear that more Rockingham County workers are driving alone.

Her family has resorted to car pooling as much as possible to save money at the pump.

“It’s ridiculous. Look at this, $3.85,” she said as daughter Alice pumped the gas.

The yearly average price for regular gas has gone from $2.348 a gallon to $3.641 nationally since 2009. The New Hampshire price is up from $2.305 to $3.626.

Prices are driving the increase nationally and in New Hampshire for car pooling and mass transit, AAA spokesman Patrick Moody said.

“There is pretty solid evidence gas prices are playing into that,” Moody said.

When her husband isn’t working his construction job in Massachusetts, the Bobroffs park his truck in the driveway. Bobroff and her mother call each other to share rides to the mall.

“It’s a lot less money,” Bobroff said.

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