This letter picks up on the conversation about gas prices, tipping points and travel we began during Monday's online discussion. Please join in to talk about whether the cost of fuel has led you to rethink how you're getting around:
"Yes, most people consider gas and car travel to be a "necessity" but not all
car travel is equal.
"Commuting for work or family issues (child care, elder care, appointments, scheduled commitments, etc.) is all considered essential travel to most families and that does not change.
"However, non-essential travel (including social engagements, leisure travel,
leisure activities, extraneous shopping, etc) will be limited. So, while people consider a trip to the doctor/dentist to be essential, they don't consider the Saturday trip to Skyline Drive or the mall to be essential and those get curtailed.
"So, I've already seen people doing leisure-time and pleasure travel closer to home (going to Ocean City instead of going to Hilton Head, going to the local mall instead of driving to Potomac Mills, taking Metro to dinner and a show downtown instead of driving).
"People are already cutting back on driving and I think if you were able to get a count on average gas usage per family, that you'd see that it is now taking slightly longer on average between gas fillups.
"I know that I don't feel the pinch as much because in January 2006, I turned in my gas hogging full-size sedan (20-21 mpg) in for a hybrid Ford Escort (31-33 mpg).
"I have not changed my driving habits, but I now need a 12-gallon fillup every 10-12 days instead of a 14-gallon fillup every 6-8 days and I still get to drive an SUV truck.
"At $3 a gallon, I computed that I saved about $800 per year in gasoline, but now that will be more. Between that and the $2,300 that I got as a tax CREDIT in 2006, by January 2007, I had broken even on the $3,200 difference in price between the non-hybrid and hybrid versions and now all of that is cash in pocket. [The daily price update on the Metro page puts the region's average price of regular at $3.81 per gallon.]
"And I get to be a little more green and help the environment both in lower fossil fuel usage and lower emissions. As the price of gas continues to rise, I think there will be a drastic shift in the
"Laws were not going to change people's habits, only hitting their pocketbooks and I think it's happening now.
-- Ted Ying
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