Although gas prices are dropping a little, the $3.60-plus cost has prompted residents -- even in a wealthier town like New Albany -- to make a few lifestyle changes.

Although gas prices are dropping a little, the $3.60-plus cost has prompted residents -- even in a wealthier town like New Albany -- to make a few lifestyle changes.

New Albany residents are taking a variety of approaches to transportation, whether it means planning out an efficient driving schedule or taking public transportation to work.

The parking lot of the New Albany United Methodist Church, 20 S. Third St., acts as the local COTA Park & Ride spot.

New Albany resident Jim Ramsey said he's been using the New Albany stop for five years, but he's been riding the bus for 20.

Ramsey said he began using public transportation before gas prices shot up because it was less expensive. He now qualifies for the discounted senior COTA pass, which means even more money saved.

"It's a $150 savings per month," he said.

Peggy Carrier lives north of Pataskala but also uses the New Albany Park & Ride stop.

"This was a great deal for me," she said last week. "It's $62 per month for a pass. It's 25 miles to work so I'd have to pay for gas and parking."

Both COTA riders said they've seen an increase in the number of people bus riders since gas prices started to rise.

"There are many more," Ramsey said. "When the second bus started for New Albany, there were six or seven of us. Within a month it was over 10. One day we had 19."

Although only 10 cars sat in the Park & Ride spots last week, Carrier said, cars usually line the west side of the parking lot.

"There's usually more cars," she said. "People are probably on vacation."

COTA also runs an express line to New Albany's business park.

Elvah Donald, a local real estate agent and president of The Donald Co., said the gas prices are affecting her line of work.

"Every Realtor is trying to lay out their day," she said. "We used to take gas for granted, but now we make a route for the day."

While planning the day's route in the most gas-efficient way possible to try to keep gas prices from cutting into revenue, Donald said, she's even shared rides.

"We ride together," she said. "Gas prices are really affecting profitability. We have to watch our expenses."

At the New Albany Police Department, officers can be seen patrolling the village on bicycles, but it's not for gas prices, Chief Mark Chaney said. Although fuel prices have not escaped the police department, Chaney said, it's a cost that's necessary.

"We have discussed with officers ways to make sure we conserve fuel," Chaney said. "But it's just one of those things. It's a cost associated with patrol."

Elsewhere in the village, development department employees are given flex time.

Kathryn Meyer, deputy director of community development, said her department allows employees to work four 10-hour days in the summer, and every staff member is taking advantage of it this year.

"In the community development department, we are providing more hours of service to clients," she said. "We're still open five days a week. This is typically the busiest construction season."

Meyer said that when going out on site inspections, the most efficient route is taken.

"We try to cluster inspections to the best extent possible," she said.

During development planning, the village also has tried to cluster commercial to give residents one-stop shopping.

Council also has passed resolutions to connect leisure trails.

"The leisure-trail system is huge because it gives people not only the chance to recreate, but (also) to travel to jobs and friends' homes," Meyer said. "I think council has made a concerted effort to connect the trails, especially on (state Route) 605."