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kayman

Gas Prices

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On Thursday, Sperling Best Places released a study that ranked Birmingham #1 amongst 85 cities across the country in being effected by the increased fuel prices. It basically said that the typical household in the area will pay $2,420 more this year because of the higher gas prices. According to The Birmingham News:

"Poor mass transit, poverty, the layout of the town, where we live and infrastructure are among reasons why Birmingham heads the list," said Robert Robicheaux, chairman of the marketing and industrial distribution department at UAB.

"We all have to travel the same thoroughfares," he said. "Our commerce takes place north of the mountain and we live south," Robicheaux said.

Dr. Robicheaux from UAB basically said that we are an one-sided city that has only one way to get around and that's private transportation.

This study alone is enough reasoning to believe that we need to get our act together and try to improve our mass transit system.

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Outch. I know I've done all I can to cut back on the accessive use of gas and energy. I'm hoping I can influence others in my circle to follow suit.

Good topic.

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Does it say an additional $2,420 in fuel costs!!!? Is that just driving, or heating and cooling too?

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I thought I heard awhile back that Birmingham was going to add some light rail lines by 2007 any truth to that?

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The region might be able to start construction on the light rail system if the local funding is finally in place. The plan to build a comphensive regional light rail system has been on the table for nearly a decade, but local funding has been the obstacle to it.

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It'd be nice to see an increase in electricity use, because there was a new light rail system in town using it up.

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As many of have noticed, gas prices are now no joke, and the predictions is that they will likely surpass $4 by summers' end. We rank as one of the top metropolitan areas in the nation that seems to be hardest hit by the skyrocketing gas prices due to our overt auto-oriented attitude.

Many reports from such agencies such as Greater Birmingham RPC have pointed to the fact that the CommuterSmart Rideshare carpool/vanpool program has seen as high as 31% increase in usage in the past year due to gas prices. In addition, the recent report complied by the area officials that worked together did a survey that said that 66% of the survey participates would use an areawide mass transit system if it was available. So the topic of this discussion is do you think the gas prices are going force our area into investing into the usage and better funding of mass transit?

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I don't think it'll make the leaders want it more. But, I think it'll make the public want it more. The public is going to realize that cars aren't always the best way, and that they can get where they need to go on mass transit, without all the headaches.

But, I doubt that the leadership will listen.

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i'm thinking gas will have to get a lot more expensive before people are severely pressed to call for another means of going where they want to go. there was an interesting letter the editor of the bham news yesterday that actually did the math to see just how much money a yuppie would save by foregoing a trip to the beach this memorial day, and jaunting up to smith lake instead. this family, see, really wants to go to the beach, and they really don't want to go to a lake, but the prices just don't allow it anymore. they say they could afford the long trip last year, when gas was $2.30 a gallon, but not this year, when gas is $3.10.

this letter has already been removed from the al.com site, but it went something like this:

if a family takes their 15 mpg SUV to gulf shores, and the trip is approximately 300 miles one way (though it would probably be slightly more), you can assume that the SUV, like most other vehicles, can go the distance there on a single tank of gas (in this case, that's a 20-gallon capacity fuel tank, which sounds about right.) add another tank for the driving around they'll do while they're racing go karts and eating dippin' dots and buying shot glasses from the place where you have to walk through a shark's mouth, and then add one more tank for the return trip home - that's roughly 900 miles, or three tanks (roughly 60 gallons). at $3.10 per gallon for unleaded regular, that's $186 for the whole trip.

now, take that exact same scenario, and go back a year, when the same family would be willing to take the trip because the gas was only $2.30 a gallon. do the same math, and you get $138 for the whole trip. that means that at today's gas prices, it only costs $48 more to go to gulf shores than it did last year.

now, again: if they go instead to smith lake this year, that's about 60 miles each way (counting any incidental driving they do). the gas bill for that 120-mile round trip (8 gallons of gas) would be $25. that's a lot less than this year's $186 trip to gulf shores, BUT...it's also a lot less than that same trip would have cost last year at $138.

it seems remarkable that a family who owns a gas-swilling SUV is too poor to let a $48 difference in driving costs keep them from a trip to the beach, if that's their heart's desire. i think it's gonna take much more expensive gas prices to get them there.

none of this was my idea; it was thought out by the guy who wrote this letter. and it totally convinced me that people's perceptions of how bad gas prices are have not really gotten dire enough to make changes that would lead to a grass-roots transit movement.

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