Soaring gas prices

Discussion in 'Dancers Anonymous' started by lynn, Aug 9, 2005.

  1. lynn

    lynn New Member

    it's going to take me 2hrs each way if i commute by bus, i don't really think spending 4 hrs enroute is a wise decision, but we'll see....
    Thank goodness we get free parking!!
  2. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    One of the problems is that development in the US just hasn't proceeded in a way that would be very compatible with public transportation. Take even well-served metro areas like Boston, or far better, NYC. If you live in the city and work in the city you are all set. If you live in popular places outside the city and work in the city you may have practical options. But if you merely work near the city, chances are there's no way to get there other than a car.

    I live in the city and work outside of it. There is a commuter rail line that goes within 5 miles of my workplace, but the trains only run in the wrong direction. Much as I'm pro-public transit, they could expand and expand and expand and I'd probably be one of the last people to have an option to driving, since the whole point of mass transit is serving the highest volume routes (and directions!).

    And half the plan behind moving to NY was to avoid having to drive to work and then the studio every day... Instead I end up in an isolated suburban industrial park in an area more sprawled out than the 128 corridor around Boston.

    I sort of joke that I'm happy whichever way gas prices go - up is good public policy, down means I personally spend less...
  3. jon

    jon Member

    I don't see this as a big deal. If you drive an average amount and get the average mileage in the US fleet, then an increase in gas prices of $1/gallon costs maybe $500-$750/year. That's noticeable, but other costs dominate. In general owning and operating a car runs around $5,000/year, almost irrespective of the vehicle's age, factoring in depreciation, financing, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and gas.

    What gets people's attention is that they're paying for gas all the time, while other costs are yearly or irregularly spaced. But it really isn't that big a part of the total cost for most people.

    Hybrids are a decent technology, but until they fall considerably further down the economy-of-scale curve, they're pretty much a wash economically - you pay considerably more up front, and recoup it over the lifetime of the vehicle. And a considerable fraction of the advantage of hybrids arises because the current owner base is not representative of the total set of drivers. Add that to the MPG meters that hybrids like the Prius have, and the result is people tending to drive in a much more economical fashion than they do in a regular IC car. If you're that concerned about mileage, drive at 55, accelerate and brake gently, etc. - or buy a diesel like the VW Jetta TDI, which gets similar mileage.

    I'm going to keep driving 45 miles each way to dances I want to go to, by myself, because my dancing is a lot more important than saving a small amount of money and sitting home watching TV.
  4. lynn

    lynn New Member

    That's sad, it'd never be economically justifiable to develop a route the other way around, there's just not enough volume....btw, why would you live in the city and work outside of it??

    Really?? how is higher gas price good public policy??
  5. lynn

    lynn New Member

    jon, i think the big deal is that it's an increase in our daily spending. While it's true gas price is only a fraction of all the other costs, the bottom line is that it affects our already limited disposable income. For those that are without an alternative (i don't think spending 4+ hours commuting everyday is a feasible long term solution), we feel rather trapped but are forced to spend the extra bucks.
  6. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Well, I dance in the city and work outside where I could find a decent job in my field. It's more important to me to live convenient to the studio than convenient to work... one thing I am trying to preserve as I contemplate finding a more permanent place is having a public transit route to the studio at least - driving into Manhattan on a weeknight is tolerable, but I don't want to do it on weekends ($parking$).

    It would be good policy if it forced real structural changes that reduced fuel consumption. Unfortunately, as Jon pointed out the increases aren't yet enough to do that - though they obviously are enough to make life that much harder for many for whom it was already a struggle. It would only be if prices were high enough that a fair fraction of the workforce simply couldn't afford to get to work at their current wages that we'd start to see real changes - expanded public transit, company-sponsored carpools, perhaps even employers relocating back into cities or at least nearer to transit.
  7. lynn

    lynn New Member

    Right... I forgot how parking can be a problem in metropolitan area....until i took a trip to downtown yesterday :shock: .....

    The biggest problem I see with high gas prices is that those who are without alternatives are probably the ones suffering the most. I was thinking of people living in rural areas who are without any reliable forms of transportation and require SUVs (for places that snow 6 months in a year) or trucks to get around. Perhaps these people are the minority and aren't that media savvy to catch the attention of law makers....

    P.S. did I mention the negative side-effects such as increases in consumer prices? The thought didn't come to mind until I read about the truckers asking for 10-15% rate adjustment....
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    It'll be interesting to contrast American truckers' response to the gas price hikes to the reactions of French truckers a few years back... Europeans, by comparison, take their politics seriously! :wink: 8)
  9. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    This is a very persuasive argument if you only look at the cost of transportation. It's not until you take a step back and reconsider decisions about where to live and where to work (and where to locate companies) in the light of transportation cost that solutions start to be evident. Of course many people live where they do as a result of serious personal preference or even family tradition - not things to be taken lightly. But if fuel costs/shortages go from annoyance to serious issue, the forces behind these decisions may change. Living on the land made sense if you were working it, or providing services to those in the local community who were - but living on the land and commuting elsewhere doesn't doesn't make economic sense if transportation costs dramatically rise - we'd either need to return to working close to home (traditionally or by telecommuting), or cluster into practical size communities where housing and employment aren't so far apart.
  10. jon

    jon Member

    Sure, but there are a lot of specific things most people could do to alleviate this, if they really wanted to. Trade down to a smaller, more efficient vehicle. Drive more conservatively. Go to Arco instead of Shell. Rideshare. Even walk, sometimes.

    In reality, what most people are going to do is complain and keep their driving habits about the same, because we like being able to go where we want, when we want.
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Do regularly scheduled maintenance on time. Make sure the tires are properly inflated. Unload the trunk. It's really surprising to me, but driving with a light load uses less gas than carrying a heavy load.
  12. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Has this been mention yet? Anyway...

    About 30 miles per hour drive with windows open - lose 10% gas efficiency
    45 mileslose 20 % gas efficiency -- better do ac so you only lose 10% gas efficiency
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yep. I was surprised when I read that, Sagitta. But yeah. Apparently the aerodynamic design of cars these days makes them more fuel-efficient if you turn on the AC and shut the windows. 8)
  14. lynn

    lynn New Member

    does turning on ac consume more fuel??
  15. cocodrilo

    cocodrilo New Member

    The high prices of gasoline has not deterred Americans form buying gas-guzzling SUVs or those ridiculous-looking Humvees. If people were really concerned about keeping the environment clean and fuel conservation, they would buy smaller cars or better yet hybrid cars.

    Since I live conveniently in the midle of a sprawling city, I can ride my bicycle to do most of my errands or shopping. If I go to the next city for an event, I will use public transport(as in most cases with me alcohol is involved!)...
  16. lynn

    lynn New Member

    I'm starting a potentially open-ended argument but in the extreme, wouldn't we see 1) a surge of population in major cities or 2) self-sustaining local communities forming around the country with no interaction between each other (much like the early 1900s before the invention of modern transportations)

    Or better yet, we'll see a sudden development in technologies that make use of other forms of energy making gasoline a thing of the past!

    O.K., fine, the most likely scenario is probably that we'll see an incraese in numer of employees working from home (for those who have the option) with the rest of the world still suffering the high gas prices and probably at the same time lobby for governmental intervention!
  17. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Hopefully we'd see a rebirth of the minor cities, that have been so blighted in the flight to the sprawling suburbs. Once people are not employed in agriculture or a local supporting role, there's little benefit to staying so spread out - it makes more sense to cluster into pockets of sufficient density that providing services can be more efficient. While we can afford the transportation cost we may prefer to spread out until our neighbours are on the fringes of our horizon - but when we can't, it's cheaper to shrink the distances. Turn the the small cities back into viable live/work communities with good public transit to their closer denser surrounding towns and full rail schedules interconnecting them, and we might start to see some real alternatives to car culture.
  18. cocodrilo

    cocodrilo New Member

    Gas is twice the price here in Japan than what it is in the states- you guys are lucky. To give one a different perspective on things, my brother over in Venezuela says he pays 20 cents a gallon...
  19. lynn

    lynn New Member

    :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

    [packing bag and booking the next flight down to venezuela]
  20. lynn

    lynn New Member

    Having a dense population takes advantage of economies of scale, but the argument could probably go both directions.

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