We have all been there, the low fuel light pops on while you are out for a drive and you know that there is a gas station down the road but you risk it; you drive home and fill the tank the next morning. Well, with gas prices topping $4.00 a gallon people are taking bigger risks and losing out. With their car stranded, and rather than resort to Mad Max tactics, these marooned travelers call AAA. The current national average for regular gas is $3.87 a gallon—up 29 cents from a month ago and over a dollar from a year ago. It should be pointed out that the summer is looming and so is driving season. This means that more people are out on the road and that might have a bit to do with the increased calls to AAA—but most likely not the full 18% increase.
No matter how one looks at it, the increased price of gas hurts and families are forced to cut back on certain things in order to fill the tank. Higher gas prices also mean an increased price in consumer goods at the store—not only are families getting hit at the pump but at the dinner table as well.
With unemployment remaining high and many wages remaining stagnant people do not have a lot of money to invest in new hybrid or electric vehicles. It is not surprising that cities across the nation have seen an increase in the use of public transportation. Cities with well established public transportation system have seen a dramatic increase in the number of riders since last year. Boston and New York have reported a 5% increase in ridership over the past year alone.
Smaller cities with less established public transportation systems are also seeing an increase in the number of riders and that is not good. Denver reported an unexpected 8% increase in the number of users of their small public transportation systems in the first three months of the year. This increase has pushed the Denver public transportation system to its limit. In Denver, transportation officials expected to pay $2.62 a gallon for diesel fuel this year for their bus lines, but they are now paying $3.20 a gallon. Every penny increase costs the Denver Regional Transportation District an extra $100,000 a year and, thus, new buses cannot be commissioned to keep up with growing demand for public transportation.
For many Americans public transportation is not an option and sadly the outlook at the pump is not positive. Commodities analyst Richard Hastings suspects that gas prices could easily break $6.00 a gallon. The last time the national average for gas went above $4.00 a gallon was back in 2008 and it took the massive credit collapse to bring gas prices back down. Hastings thinks the price at the pump might start to back down if the Fed increases interest rates in the fall. For now, however, gas prices will continue to rise and so will the calls to AAA.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.