Thursday, May 08, 2008

Gas Price Bite

Updated: Friday, 10:00am

The word is that the price of gas is seriously hurting the people of this country. Items in the national news, on blogs and in my local paper all say the same thing; that something has to be done about the price of gas because it is damaging this fine nation of ours and hurting its citizens.

I think not. Pure unadulterated bullfeathers.

When I drive in San Diego, and I will bet that your city is no different, more than a third of the cars around me, and frequently closer to half, are oversized low-mileage SUV’s or pickup trucks. Ninety percent or more of the vehicles have a single occupant, the driver. Virtually 100% of the cars on the freeway, other than at rush hour, are driving at 70 mph and faster, and at rush hour there are so many cars on the freeway that they are barely moving at all.

All of this is hugely wasteful practice and serves no actually useful purpose. The extra 20 mph gets you where you’re going a few minutes earlier, but only if it doesn’t cause an accident which results in you not getting there at all. Meanwhile it uses an extra gallon of that high-priced gasoline that America complains about having to pay for.

If the price of gas were really a problem America would be ride sharing, and car pooling. San Diego built car pool lanes on our freeways and then had to sell passes for single-occupancy users of them because there weren’t enough multi-occupancy automobiles on the freeway to keep those lanes occupied. With gas at $3.93 per gallon those lanes remain under-utilized.

"Your actions speak so loudly I can't hear what you say."

When I see San Diego freeways where the majority of cars are high-mileage economy models with three or four occupants driving at 55 mph because the traffic is so light at rush hour, then I will believe that the price of gas is affecting the people of this country.

Until then, just shut up with the whining.

Update: Friday morning
Seems I'm a little bit off target with this rant. Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly reports today that driving is down and public transportation usage is up this year. Not by enough to completely invalidate my point, but enough that fairness dictates mentioning it.


  1. Anonymous4:19 PM

    It is a inconvenient, not a true crisis. Of course, if you're on a fixed income like Social Security or unemployed, then yes it hits you harder. But it is not an impossible situation.

    What is worse IMHO is the politicos clamoring for a "solution", which is at best a short term temp fix and does nothing to solve any long term issues... um, gee sort of like the "economic stimulus plan".

    Go figure...

  2. Anonymous4:39 AM

    Well said. It may even be that rising prices are exactly what's needed to bring a bit more focus back onto fuel efficiency and public transport.