Friday, May 05, 2006

Gasoline, do your part.

I saw this video on CNN with the Exxon CEO where he made a simple statement, "want cheaper gas? Use less gas". I'm sure he was branded a spiteful pigopolist, but he's also right.

It sickens me how much we waste. Back when I was working in Glenwood Springs, you know, the good ol $1.67 days I would look from the on-ramp of I-70 in Rifle at the other cars about me. One car, or in some cases one truck/SUV and one driver. No other passengers were present in the vehicles. Now I can understand you just need to make a trip here and there. After all, why should I be expected to be a carpool everywhere I go lugging the masses with me maintaining a full vehicle? No, these weren't just people making a trip between towns. I began to notice that I saw the same vehicles, the same drivers, every day doing the same routine going to work. Yep, one person per car, 30 mile trips. Often times in big trucks and SUV's wasting gas away.

Now don't mistake this for an anti-SUV article, I have no aversion to the availabilities and prevalence of SUV's on the market. I think if someone wants to buy an SUV, great. However, the complaints about high gasoline prices should be silenced. We have done this to ourselves, and it's just catching up to us. Ford isn't the problem, shortsighted and foolish citizens are the problem. I was part of the problem for the longest time because I wasted more gas than most. My commute use to be around 140 miles per day, often times with only myself in the vehicle. To my defense at the time, I did start carpooling wherever I could. I also ran classified ads trying to get people to participate or start up a carpool.

Time moved me to a different job, and I noticed the same thing between even two smaller communities. Craig and Steamboat Springs have the same problem. When I began the 45 mile commute to Steamboat, I saw the same thing. I saw cars, with one head in the vehicle doing a daily commute. Soliciting wherever possible "Hey, let's do a carpool" garnered absolutely no results. This was even in the $2.30 a gallon days too! Back then the rhetoric about how "enough was enough!" started, yet no one wanted to carpool. Simply wonderful.

Yet, there is some redemption here. Between the two communities, there is a bus system supported. Yes, the Steamboat Springs Transit, known in the area as the SST for short. Designed primarily as a commuter tool for the people who reside in more affordable Craig to work in Steamboat where the jobs are. After doing some math I have found that this system is about half the cost of commuting and would be similar to the cost of carpooling, and with far more effective energy usage.

In my vehicle, commuting on my own cost on average of $13 per day in gas when it was cheaper. Factor in today's prices and that costs around $14.25. By taking the intervals of oil changes, tire changes, and windshield repair and dividing that by the number of commuting days I have brought the overall cost of the commute per day to around $16.80. This was in a sedan that got around 34 miles per gallon. Now you also can't argue in favor of the vehicle's fuel efficiency either.

I found that with even 3 passengers, the best usage of "gallons of gas per person" was around .8 gallons per person with my car full in such a commute. In a bus with a capacity of 60 but only loaded to about 40, the usage per gallon of diesel splits down to about .65 per person based on the usages I have acquired from the bus drivers. "Hey how much gas do these things use, and how often do ya fill up?". If you load these to capacity, then you're getting .48 gallons per person.

This is the part that saddens me. The people that often use this service are those who have had DUI's and have no license, or people that are part of a criminal work/rehab program, and people who can't afford a vehicle. Granted, there are more like me, and especially with gas prices now above the $3/gal marker.

If this kind of utility had been used when possible, however, we may not have reached such a marker.

On a sidenote, the main reason that I use the bus is that my car was struck by a pretty good sized rock destroying my rear window and costing me extra money ontop of my commuting cost. Was that George Bush's fault? Or the greedy republicans? The terrorist oil producing nations? No, it was nobody's bad luck but my own. The high prices are also nobody's fault but our own. So I have to respect the message from Exxon. It's straightforward, and the best solution to our problem. Want cheaper gas? Use less of it. It can't be expected to have infinite supply with no end, and certainly complaining will do you no good. Plus you may get some of your health back. I have been using the bike rack provided on the bus, and I now get a pretty nice "built in" workout routine every day that has helped me to feel better. Not about the fact I only spend $140 a month on commuting, but overall. My commuting cost without the bus service would have ended up being $350 a month, so save your health, your conscience, and also your wallet. Do your part, I'm doing mine.


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