Money Minute: Americans Flock to Mass Transit; Bull Market Charges On


Americans are flocking to public transportation like never before.

Commuters are leaving their cars at home and using trains, buses and subways at record levels. The American Public Transportation Association says we took 10.6 billion trips on public transit last year, the most since the group starting keeping track in 1956.

Usually, transit ridership jumps along with the price of gasoline, but this increase came as gas prices actually declined. Use of public transit rose among young riders, especially in big cities like New York, Los Angeles and Phoenix, but the biggest gains came in smaller cities.

The bull market on Wall Street enters its sixth year today. History says five years is a long run, but this bull could be built for marathon running. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Many market pros say the slowly improving economy should carry stocks to more gains this year, even though they're likely to be much more modest than the 30 percent surge we saw last year.

Since hitting bottom March 9, 2009, the the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) has rallied 178 percent, and a key measure of small stocks has done even better. The Russell 2000 (^RUT) soared 251 percent.

The S&P 500 starts the week at a record high. It gained 1 percent last week. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC posted modest gains.

AT&T (T) is again lowering prices on its wireless plans. You can get unlimited calls and texts, along with 2 gigabytes of data, for $65 a month. That's down $15 from the current plan. But -- and there's always a but -- you have to use your existing phone or buy a new one at full price. T-Mobile US (TMUS) started the latest price war, but it is now raising prices by $10 a month.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that even though some plans are coming down in cost, our overall phone bills are going up as more and more people switch to smartphones and increasingly use wireless Internet.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.