The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Santa Clarita has risen to $3.34, up 45 cents from a month ago, according to a monthly price survey conducted by the Automobile Club of Southern California. Some motorists who grudgingly fork out the bucks for gas are applying the brakes on vehicle maintenance. “If a year ago it cost you $20 to fill your tank up and now it’s costing virtually $80, where’s it coming from if you make the same money?” said Tom Shrum, service manager at Big O Tires and Service Center in Valencia. “It seems like nowadays if people have 10 to 15 percent left on their tires they want to stretch it a couple months, when it used to be if they had 25 to 30 percent left they used to change them.” [email protected] (661) 257-5255160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsFrom nearly 277,000 trips in February, the number jumped almost 60,000 to about 334,800 in March. School vacations may account for the decline in April to 295,000 trips. Metro, which operates about 2,245 buses a day in L.A. County, saw bus ridership up 2 1/2 percent in April compared to a year earlier. Metro rail ridership was up 15 percent. Santa Clarita’s director of administrative services began riding the commuter express from Sherman Oaks 1 1/2 years ago. “During the commute I do work, I read, I review memos, I write letters and reports – I take what would be 30 to 35 minutes of unproductive time each way and make it an hour of very productive time without interruptions,” said Darren Hernandez. “I also like the fact that when I commute I’m doing my part to get one more vehicle off the road; I’m able to reduce auto emissions into the air, and use less imported fuel.” The buses, which reach to Century City and downtown Los Angeles, are carrying more passengers now, said Hernandez, who also sometimes carpools with the director of another city department. SANTA CLARITA – As gasoline prices keep climbing, more people in Santa Clarita are climbing onto trains and buses. It is too soon to know whether riders are fickle or have embraced public transit commutes, but Metrolink officials say more people overall are riding trains than they did last year. “We’re showing a 6 percent increase in ridership from the Santa Clarita area during the month of April – that’s pretty significant for us,” said Francisco Oaxaca, a Metrolink spokesman. “Making the switch to Metrolink is a pretty significant lifestyle change for most people, and for them to really make the switch and then stick with it would take several more weeks.” The number of people riding Santa Clarita’s local and commuter buses seems to have grown in the past three months, and ridership is up from last year, officials said.