Friday, June 13, 2008

Rising gas prices create indigestion for commuters

With gas prices hovering at $3.89 a gallon here, creative scheduling is one resort to squeezing the most octane out of a tank.  Students attending South Texas College and the University of Texas are typically commuter students.  Most live at home and many hold down full-time jobs while attending classes.  This results in drive time to and from campus.  UTPA recently announced it would lengthen class sessions so students could attend classes on only two instead of three days of the week. (Source: The Edinburg, TX, Review, June 11, 2008)

Will work for gas 
My husband is rather casual with our yard care.  It has been several months since anyone has stopped by to ask if we'd like the lawn mowed.  It was not unusual to have two or three people stop by on a Saturday and ask for the job until my husband would take the hint and pull the lawn mower from the garage.  
People living on marginal jobs can no longer afford the gasoline to drive around town looking for day work.  Delivery jobs that depend on personal vehicles are also being hit hard.  Think pizza, newspapers.  Who will come to your house with a hot cheesy pizza when the cost to deliver it is more than the profit from the food? 
There aren't may options for mass transportation in the Valley.  The public bus system is very limited.  People must rely on getting to their destination on their own.  People living on meager salaries also tend to have older vehicles, which guzzle gas.
Even those of us with steady jobs are feeling the pinch.  I now have a little built-in gas-o-meter. On the way to do an errand this morning, I was typically day dreaming and passed the building. I had to turn around.  It irked me.  Later I accelerated to pass a slow-moving car, only to be stopped at the corner by a red light.  This stop-and-go driving burns up precious fuel.  My mental gas-o-meter calculated the costs.  I slowed down and paid attention to the road.

Now You Want to Conserve Natural Resources
or tips for conserving gasoline
1.  Walk or ride a bike.  Bicycles are flying off the shelves at Wal-Mart.  It isn't Christmas so it's probably one remedy to cutting down on driving. 
2.  Save driving time by grouping errands so you can do them at the same time.  Do errands on the way to and from work.  
3.  Consider a staycation.  Stay-at-home vacations are a sensible alternative to high plane tickets and expensive road trips.  Leave the Suburban in the suburbs.  Leave the Explorer on the driveway while you have fun inside.  If cabin fever hits and you absolutely have to get out, take a day trip to explore the local sites you never have time to visit.  When was the last time you took the family to the local museum or library?
4.  Avoid rush hour.  Stop-and-go traffic is hard on gas mileage.  (Day dreaming just prolongs trips.)
5.  Speed kills - your wallet.  According to the Department of Energy, you lose 7 percent efficiency for every 5 mph you drive over 65 mph. 
6. Buy a locking gas cap.  A co-worker's mom had her tank syphoned dry at a hospital parking lot.  This is a new criminal activity for this area so maybe crime rates are increasing.

For more tips, check out "Easy ways to conserve gas" listed to the left.

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