Monday, June 16, 2008

Lower Gas Costs with Public Transportation

If gas prices have you singing the blues, let me make a case for public transportation. Even with the Saudi’s recent agreement to increase oil output, gas prices show no signs of dropping or leveling off. The rising gas prices all but dictate that we take drastic measures to decrease our dependence on foreign oil. One way to do that is to start to take public transportation.


I’ve never been skinny but before I had a car and I depended solely on mass transit to get around, I was significantly slimmer. Part of the reason for this is that the bus encourages walking. Case in point; if the bus that passes on your street takes you to another stop where you have to get off and wait on another bus, but you know you can simply catch the bus that you want by walking two blocks over, then you’re more inclined. In the long run this translates into a slimmer physique and more energy.


Just in case you’ve seen any of the Youtube videos outlining the horrors of bands of roving ADHD teens harassing unassuming bus riders, take heart. That doesn’t happen nearly as much as you might be led to believe by Youtube. I believe it’s a propaganda tactic used by oil companies to scare people into driving and continuing to pay exorbitant prices for gas. That is my conspiracy theory and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, people who ride the bus are, for the most part, overworked and underpaid so they are far too tired to harass you. Even the one’s who look threatening are usually just exhausted. It’s usually easiest just say hello and see how it goes from there. Some of the best friends I have, I met riding the bus.


While, all across the country, the cost of riding public transportation has gone up, it pales in comparison to the cost of a gallon of gas. According to ICF International, a driver saves about $1400 a year by taking public transportation. Add to that their findings that using public transit saves about 1.4 million gallons of gas per year and it’s easy to see how that could over time and with increasing ridership start to really go a long way towards decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. Check out the American Public Transportation Associations Transit Calculator to see how much you can personally save based on your car’s mpg.


Transit authorities all over are utilizing cleaner burning hybrids. These buses make far less of an impact on the environment and their decreased emissions produce less CO2 in the atmosphere, thereby mitigating the greenhouse effect. Whether you think Al Gore’s Global Warming message is all propaganda or not you can’t argue with the fact that we’ve been having some weird and wacky weather. I subscribe to the ‘err on the side of caution’ theory. It’s worth it to make the effort to insure the earth doesn’t just spontaneously combust or flood from all the run off from the melting polar ice caps. That may be an extreme statement but if it makes the point, so much the better.


Usually by the time people make it in from navigating traffic and putting up with other drivers, they are plum tuckered out. Wouldn’t be great to leave the driving to someone else? This is especially nice if you live in outlying areas and get to ride the plush park and ride buses which occasionally come with drop down DVD screens and a movie.

Public transportation gets a bad rap but it is reliable, efficient and cost effective and as gas prices continue to rise it will become a necessity.