Val is a Georgia mother in her late 30's who lives 34 miles from her Atlanta job. Because of traffic her commute can take up to two hours. "I burn a lot of gas just sitting in traffic. It's crazy of course. Sometimes I drive further to avoid the traffic." She spends about $80 per week on gasoline.
School buses are a veritable stealth transit system of their own, criss-crossing the most rural parts of the country on rigid schedules. They haul 24 million kids a day in 480,000 buses-- and yearly ridership barely exceeds all US "adult" transit. But high fuel prices are causing school districts to trim their bus services, which means that the burden of transporting kids to school will fall on their parents. Ironically, saving money by eliminating school buses will result in higher gas consumption, and it will shift higher costs to families.
Reese (not her real name) commutes from San Francisco, California to Sacramento--more than 90 miles each way. When the traffic IS bad, and that’s usually on the way home, her kids (ages 6, 8,10) call her cell wondering when she’ll get home so they can plan the evening’s activities. “I’ve cried many days,” she says. Generally, she calms her nerves by listening to gospel and NPR and talking with a close friend. But the drive has a high cost both economically and emotionally. To cope, Reese has dramatically changed her family life, and to some extent her work life, to cut down her driving.
With gas prices over $4 a gallon in some areas, ordering delivery can be an attractive option for meals. But a recent article in the Hays Free Press highlights the plight of delivery drivers who have to pay for driving costs out of their own pockets.
[Delivery drivers] don’t earn that much to begin with. Now they’re expected to fill up their tanks when regular unleaded is going for $3.42 a gallon? Just so the rest of us can gorge ourselves in the comfort of our own homes?
Jeff Grant is an ER technician and a paramedic. He lives in Waldoboro, Maine. He works two jobs and his wife works one. Last month between them they spent $760 on gasoline, car payments (for two modest used cars) and car insurance. This month the 50 cent increase in the cost of fuel means they’ll spend about $828 for transportation. That means that Jeff is working one job just so he and his wife can get to their other two.
The New York Times asked me to write about the role of speculators in the oil markets. While there is a lot of speculation in oil markets, another problem is that there is no "reality check" on gas prices because American drivers have few choices besides paying for gas to get to work. Here's my explanation of our role in high gas prices, and how we can change it. Some readers disagreed.