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monsoon

What does $4 gas mean to Charlotte

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It's no secret that Charlotte's transportation and hence it's economy is highly dependent upon fossil fuels. When gasoline and diesel approach and exceed $4/gallon will it put a dent in the city and region's economy. Will it drive more people to move to locations closer to work? Will they finally get serious here about building more sustainable development for the people? Will it drive downtown growth or hurt it? What is your opinion.

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Where is the bus? Where is the bus? is what you are going to hear.

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Hopefully it will become a more positive thing and drive the city towards developing mass transit sooner and turn more people pro mass transit.

And it may very well make more people want to live downtown closer to their jobs.

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If high prices are sustained, it will encourage the continued urban development, but I don't think the impact will be as great as we urban enthusiasts wish it would be. People will always desire the suburban lifestyle. The bigger push will be for alternative fuels, hybrid vehicles, etc.

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Hopefully it will become a more positive thing and drive the city towards developing mass transit sooner and turn more people pro mass transit.

And it may very well make more people want to live downtown closer to their jobs.

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This will come across as very pessimistic, but here goes.

For every person who elects to ride the bus due to high gas prices, There might be someone else who would instead call for tax cuts (gas tax, transit sales tax, property tax, etc) so they can still afford to buy gas.

I can see it now: "Don't waste my money on buses and Light Rail at a time like this, give me my money back, I need it to buy gas!"

We might really be that hooked.

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If high prices are sustained, it will encourage the continued urban development, but I don't think the impact will be as great as we urban enthusiasts wish it would be. People will always desire the suburban lifestyle. The bigger push will be for alternative fuels, hybrid vehicles, etc.

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Every Sunbelt city will be in the same boat as Charlotte. It's gonna suck, but at the same time, it could be just the boost CATS has been looking for and just might shut up those anti-transit idiots.

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What I want to know is how many people who have posted in this thread drive an SUV.....live in the suburbs.......

I drive a hybrid. I know it is not much.....but I am trying to do my part

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^guilty as charged. My wife 'convinced' me into buying a home in SW Charlotte, as opposed to the Plaza Midwood home I was hoping for.

e2, regarding your comments about 'cheap' cookie cutter suburban housing, I'm not sure high gas prices will really have that effect. If anything, the gas prices will hit the economy hard, and the result will be more people looking for cheap (aka poorly built cookie cutter suburban) housing. And before complimenting Baxter Village too much, let's remember that it's 14 miles from Uptown, so it's sitting next to farms the same way that every other suburban development is. The architecture is high quality and the layout of the development is second to none when compared to other suburban developments, but it's still 14 miles outside of the center city. Having said that, I do hope it becomes the role model for future suburban development. After you get past the fact that it was built so far away and off of a highway exit, Baxter actually has a lot of good qualities.

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Well actually Plaza Midwood is a suburb in terms of needing an automobile to get around. Sure it's got character, but its an auto suburb just like the vinyl house developments being approved by the city these days.

There are very few places that one could live in Charlotte and possibly not have an automobile and not be very inconvenienced. I think the better question is how much driving do you have to do to get to work, school, and other places on a daily basis.

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^^ Yeah, I meant the type of architecture in the development, not the development itself, like you were saying, it's still out there and you need a car to get in and out of it, but if something like that was built around one of the transit stations and at reasonable price that was competitive to suburban location, and then factor in gas prices people would be more inclined to move more in town, instead of just having condos.

I can see what you mean though about the high gases prices back firing and causing people to move into cheaper homes because of affordability issues, but like I said if the city could offer something just as competitve as what you see in some suburban areas for about the same price in town, factored in with high gas prices would convince more people to move in town.

orulz, you are probably right though, Does anyone know if there is a study to show how much more volitile a person's expenses are during these gas price spikes, in a more auto-dependent city like Atlanta and Charlotte versus someone living in a city that has an extensive mass transit system like NYC or Portland?

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Every Sunbelt city will be in the same boat as Charlotte. It's gonna suck, but at the same time, it could be just the boost CATS has been looking for and just might shut up those anti-transit idiots.

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My family went to the grocery store this past weekend and spent $141 bucks!! $141 bucks!!, we've never spent that much on groceries and we didn't even pick up meats or milk that day either. :shok:

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Well actually Plaza Midwood is a suburb in terms of needing an automobile to get around. Sure it's got character, but its an auto suburb just like the vinyl house developments being approved by the city these days.

There are very few places that one could live in Charlotte and possibly not have an automobile and not be very inconvenienced. I think the better question is how much driving do you have to do to get to work, school, and other places on a daily basis.

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Everything is proportionately priced. As fuel prices go up, so do the prices of services and products. They have to be shipped to us using gas or diesel so their cost goes up and that is passed on to us. Everything will continue to rise. CATS will probably continue to raise their prices but there is only so much they can raise it at a time. They just announced a rate hike the other day so they pretty much have to wait a while one would think. Otherwise they are going to outprice the people who currently use mass transit the most, which is the poor.

As for whether people will continue to drive, there will always be a large contingent of people that will drive their personal vehicle either by choice or necesity. I have to drive to work because I have to be there rain or shine (or snow for that matter). I could ride CATS to work but I'd be on the bus for an hour to an hour and a half and would have to wait at the transit center for a transfer. No thank you, especially when I can drive to work in 25 minutes. And when it comes to living closer to your work, I would love to be closer, but that's just not possible. Pretty much in every direction for 4-5 miles of my work is the hood and I'd much rather live in a nice part of town. I'm about as close as I can get and still be living in a nice area with quality homes and unfortunately, that forces me to drive to work. Maybe 15 years from now, I'll be able to ride the Independence LRT. Wishful thinking. :rolleyes:

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I really want a Prius... but right now I drive an older Civic. I live close to East Blvd and walk to Teeter and the various restaurants several times a week for the fun of it and will be doing more of it as gas prices continue to climb. I work from home when I am not out dog walking so I think I have a pretty "urban" lifesytle for a new south city like Charlotte.

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I have one comment and one question:

1) I don't know that higher gas prices will cause more people to ride the buses...with $4 gas, it shouldn't be long before bus prices go up significantly.

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"Suburbs" is a general and often times derogatory word on these boards. I live in the burbs, but its because I work in the suburban town of Matthews. I chose living 4 miles from work so really its as metro stated, its how much you drive. My home in Charlotte was near downtown but twice the distance to my job. I am crossing my fingers for a few additional bike lanes to ease the transition to biking to work.

Anyway, I agree with orulz comments and would add that people are willing to give up a surprising amount of their lifestyle to continue driving. Recent msn.com polls show that people are cutting back on eating out, shopping, etc....all to put gas in their cars! I also think the whole country in general has such a knee jerk attitude to rising prices. If gas drops just 25 or 50 cents per gallon, the public lines back up to purchase the next Chevy Tahoe or H2.

Anybody watch end of suburbia recently?

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Using that logic, every transit system in the world would be doomed with fuel cost fluctuations. It is far cheaper for a society to share the cost rather than to place it on the shoulders of the individual. At any rate, almost all buses in Charlotte use diesel which is far cheaper than gasoline. And when gas spiked after Hurricane Katrina, ridership soared on CATS buses.

The more people that ride busses the more efficient they become thus offsetting the need for price increases to sustain the service.

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I don't think anyone mentioned this, but 2006 was the first year in over 25 years where the total number of miles actually decreased (by 1%). On average, the number of miles increases annually by 2.5%. So I think its safe to say people are being observant, whether it means a dramatic change in lifestyle (urban living or public transportation), of if it just means deciding to do all the shopping at Super Wal-Mart one day a week as opposed to driving to individual stores whenever there is a need.

What I want to know is how many people pat themselves on the back for buying a fuel efficient car, but don't live a fuel efficient lifestyle. All the gas the vehicle saves is being wasted by frivolous driving habits.

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orulz, you are probably right though, Does anyone know if there is a study to show how much more volitile a person's expenses are during these gas price spikes, in a more auto-dependent city like Atlanta and Charlotte versus someone living in a city that has an extensive mass transit system like NYC or Portland?

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Who knows what $4 gas will mean as far as the economic well being of the region, so I will not speculate on that. Personally I thought $3 per gallon would be enough for many people to change their habits...

As for walkability and transit in Charlotte, my wife and I are both graduate students and decided to live in Commonwealth-Morningside 2 years ago so that we could walk to the Harris Teeter, walk to the restaurant, walk to the bar, etc. When we need to go to the store we get the dog, make the 15 minute walk, run in and pick up what we need and walk 15 minutes home. Walkable areas to exist in Charlotte, people just consider walking more than 10 minutes to be to far IMHO.

Additionally we are also a one car household. Our old car died so we purchased a Yaris in December for its 40-43 miles per gallon. I take the CATS 17 to Uptown to catch the 77X to Davidson four times a week back and forth. It takes me just over an hour to get from my front door to Davidson Town Hall. Before that I would commute to UNCC in just over an hour via CATS 17 & 11U 3-4 times a week for a year and a half. Now do I wish the commute times were shorter, absolutely. However I am willing to spend the extra time to do it and many others aren't.

Take the 11U to UNCC from Uptown, by the time you get to campus maybe 3-4 people are getting off there. I am going to keep my fingers crossed that transit ridership will see a significant increase at $4 per gallon, but I'm not counting on it...

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I don't think $4/gallon will have much of an effect on people apart from a psychological one - it may influence their next house purchase or how many times they drive to the store in a week, but I don't think we will see a massive shift in transit support or buying habits until you're looking at $5-6/gallon.

In my opinion, we should raise the gas taxes, at least within metro areas (using the proceeds to fund transit and subsidize TOD) to the point that it does affect the mobility of the average consumer - $5-6 per gallon or more (assuming $3 of each gallon is the actual gas) would generate tons of revenue and more rapidly shift development priorities.

Average people can make choices to minimize the impact of gas prices - currently between the Vespa and Miata I use about 7 gallons of gas per week commuting to work, errands (being walking distance to a grocery store makes life much easier), going out with friends, living a pretty mobile life. The difference between $21/week and $42/week, worst case, will not have much effect on each individual, though would reap huge benefits for the city in the short term. I'd probably just end up taking the Vespa more places and cut down consumption further. Once the light rail starts up I can realize a drastic reduction in consumption as well due to a strategic home purchase (in a neighborhood where prices are under $100/sqft even)

Summary: living a less gasoline intensive lifestyle doesn't take living downtown or big money - just informed consumer decisions - expensive gas would only help influence similar decision making in others.

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People love to drive in Europe too, where gas is effectively like $8/gal here.

Most people will just make sacrifices elswhere in their lives. The convenience of an automobile is too hard to give up. But I do think we'll see a shift to more fuel efficient cars. I've seen it before. I remember the late 70s early 80s when automobile ads put the MPG in larger font than the price.

To me it's comical to read the rants on the Observer blog.. about oil price conspiracies and left wing eco-nuts trying to take away people's cars.

They don't get it. The cheese has moved. Cheap oil is going away. Adapt.

www.theoildrum.com

www.peakaware.com

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