Monday, June 09, 2008

$4.00 Gas? Get Used To It

Gas has now settled in at over $4.00 per gallon, and if you know in any better, don't expect it to come down anytime soon, if ever.

This is the new reality, and it's changing things as we know them. Truck production lines are shutting down, people are driving less, and everything costs more. The effects are felt differently in different parts of the country, as this article in
today's NY Times illustrates.

With the exception of rural Maine, the Northeast appears least affected by gasoline prices because people there make more money and drive shorter distances, or they take a bus or train to work.

But across Mississippi and the rural South, little public transit is available and people have no choice but to drive to work. Since jobs are scarce, commutes are frequently 20 miles or more. Many of the vehicles on the roads here are old rundown trucks, some getting 10 or fewer miles to the gallon.

This article goes on to say

They warn that the high cost of driving makes low-wage labor even less attractive to workers, especially those who also have to pay for child care and can live off welfare and food stamps.

“As gas prices rise, working less could be the economically rational choice,” said Tim Slack, a sociologist at Louisiana State University who studies rural poverty. “That would mean lower incomes for the poor and greater distance from the mainstream.”

It can also mean more crime, as some people do what they have to do to survive, and others take advantage of the current situation, as evidenced by what happened here in Houston last night.

A gasoline tanker driver was fatally shot while delivering fuel at a north Houston convenience store late Sunday night during what police believe was an attempted robbery.

The truck driver, who was approximately 30 years old, was delivering fuel to a Mobil gas station in the 9000 block of North Freeway near West Gulf Bank around 10:45 p.m. when his girlfriend came by to deliver his dinner, said Houston Police Department Homicide Division Sgt. Patrick LeBlanc.

It's understandable that an armored truck needs armed guards, but we're rapidly approaching the point where these fuel truck drivers are going to need the same type of protection. They present too tempting of a target with gas prices as high as they are right now.

I don't know how this situation is going to turn out, but I know the next President will have a huge mess on his hands to clean up. The silver lining is that maybe, just maybe, Americans are slowly warming up to ideas that will break this gasoline addiction, like alternative energy sources, and mass transit.

Did I just say mass transit in Houston, the city built with the pickup truck in mind? Well, if informal surveys of my SUV driving friends are any indication, the idea not only has merit, but some are already implementing it by using van pools. What they are all doing is driving a lot less, and trying to dump their now worthless SUV's for whatever they can get that doesn't leave them in debt. People are also buying small cars and hybrids, or scooters, or riding the bus, all anathema just a few short months ago.

It is truly amazing how fast things have changed, but I have the feeling it's going to get worse before it gets better. After all, summer's just arriving with it's sky high cooling bills for our part of the world. Wait till you see those bills.

So hang on.


The True Urban Queen aka Sharon said...

The other day I was telling someone that $4.00 is the price of gas that is here to stay. Even, if gas goes up when it comes back down it is still going to be around the high three maybe four price. It is just the why it is.

that girl boo said...

sad but true Urban Queen, and the fact still remains that there is no reason at all to be bleeding the public dry like this, except for greed, the technology has always been there to develop the "electric car"
or a high millage vehicle.
I'm no religious fanatic but these fools had better hope the Lord is in a good mood on judgment day.

Big Tex said...

As a regular rider of DART here in the Dallas area, I can personally attest to the fact that the market is growing for public transit. I've seen a definite increase in ridership since gas prices began increasing. However, access and convenience are big problems for a lot of people. There are still far too many neighborhoods in the DART area that either aren't covered, or where the nearest bus stop is a significant walking distance away - my nearest bus stop is a 10-minute walk from my front door, for example. And even in places that have coverage, buses usually only come by every 30 minutes and sometimes every hour. During non-peak hours, there might not be any coverage at all. At one point, before I moved to my current neighborhood, my commute to work was nearly two hours long, because I had to transfer twice and there was a long wait between buses. A lot of people who own cars won't put themselves through that, and it's hard to blame them for not wanting to do so.

Gas is not getting any cheaper - we'll never see $3.00 gas again - so public transit is going to be an increasingly necessary part of life for a growing number of people. There's no excuse for not investing more money into making it more reliable and less miserable for those people.

DP said...

Queen - I agree, the price is raised, and then comes down a little bit, and that becomes the new benchmark. $3.00 gas is a thing of the past, and I won't even talk about the .97 a gallon prices we had when this administration came to power.

TGB - Alternative energies and means of transportation have always been around, but a combination of big oil and big automakers have colluded to kill every viable option. Maybe now is different.

Big Tex - I used the Metro system here too, but since my work location changed it requires a 4+ hours of commute time daily in order to get there and back, and that now makes it impractical. There's no excuse for not investing in public transportation infrastructure. Especially now.

Anonymous said...

I live in D.C. and gas ain't been $4.00 since it was $4.00. I believe some of the gas stations are peddling $4.15 p/ gallon gas. I don't even look at the price anymore, I just pump...LOL!

:::Marcus LANGFORD:::

DP said...

Marcus - that way might be better for your sanity! Everyone is having to adjust their budgets to accommodate gas prices though, and that money comes at the expense of something else. Like maybe eating! lol

Eating out anyway or other entertainment. Somethings got to give.