For most of us reading a news article with the headline: “Rising gas prices aren’t as bad as you think”, does little to comfort the pain of having to pay more and more when filling up our car. In fact, as I found out posting this on Facebook, it makes some outright furious: not only with the actual prices of gas, but also with the assumption that we somehow aren’t affected as badly as we’d like to think.
About an hour after posting this article, more than a hundred of you commented. The vast majority of you posted under the sentiment: “Yes… we ARE feeling it!”. I read through the dozens upon dozens of posts. Some of you have made some serious changes to your routine. Tina posted, “We have altered our work schedules so that we can basically share the van because it has better gas mileage. I ride my bike to the grocery store when only getting a few small things, and carpool to the sports [events] more often.”
Pamela says she’s “trying to get in a carpool at work. I just buy less food unfortunately.”
Others say they’ve traded in their gas-guzzlers for more fuel-efficient options. Sheila wrote, “I traded my large SUV in for a more affordable Honda….” And James posted that he bought a gas-saving commuter car to drive to work instead of his truck. He added, “I would have never done that if gas prices didn’t go up.”
There’s another side to this gas debate. There are those who side with the experts cited in the CNN Money article. Jennie’s comment clearly shows where she stands on this issue: “ I personally laugh at the ones complaining about increased gas, but own smart phones, ipads, etc…. [T]hey have had no problem shelling out extra money for more apps, more data, etc.”
Jason suggested, “Record how much you actually spend (on gas), and you’ll find it’s not that bad unless you need to drive a lot. It’s about the same as getting a coffee every morning.”
Michael took on a more aggressive stance, claiming we in the U.S. don’t take fuel consumption seriously enough. He posted: “Stand at an intersection in Hampton Roads. Any intersection. Watch traffic. Look at the types of vehicles moving. Big, huge, gigantic gas-guzzling vehicles with only 1 or 2 people inside. People flooring the gas pedal when the light turns green. People tailgating. And these are only a few examples of factors that contribute to poor fuel economy…. So as prices go up, and you’re scratching your head at the pump as to why prices are going up, simply look around. The reason, is US.”
Stephanie agreed with Michael. She posted, “I love how everyone is saying, ‘I go to the store less often’ and ‘we carpool more’ like these are BAD things. You should be doing that anyway, regardless of what gas prices are! If you’re not then YOU are part of the problem. Like Michael said, the problem is not the prices, it’s your consumption.”
What if we had more public transportation options? I lived in Spain for several months and was thoroughly impressed by how easy it was to live without a car. It’s a luxury those of us in some parts of Hampton Roads would really struggle without.
Talking on Europe, Schonna posted, “… NO COMPARISON! They have incredible infrastructure. Buses and metro systems give everyone an alternative. Their cars are built differently in size and fuel economy. And you have local markets for everything you need in every town. When we have all that I would be ok with $9 a gallon for gas.”
Stephanie (same as above) countered Schonna’s Europe argument writing, “Funny how you all say that Europe has better public transportation and that’s why it’s OK for their gas prices to be so high… We pay at least a dollar more than you in Chicago but we also have great public transportation. But yet when they try to build a better infrastructure for you and create public transportation (light rail) you vote against it time and time again…. You can’t have it both ways – you have to either agree to improve your public transportation or pay the higher gas prices.”
In places with more transportation options, like Washington D.C., folks are noticing more passengers riding alongside them on the trains and metro. On my WAVY Facebook page, Carleigh told me she takes the train into DC everyday, “I have noticed that the trains have been a lot more crowded lately. I also read an article on the VRE (Virginia Railway Express) yesterday that mentioned the possibility of an increase in train fares. Their reasoning… gas prices.”
From what I’ve cleaned from these comments is that most of you simply feel the article is out of touch. As Stephen put it, “Whoever wrote this obviously doesn’t work with me. Where we haven’t seen even a cost of living raise in 5 years. The numbers on everything except my paycheck are constantly on the rise.”
I emailed the author, Steve Hargreaves at CNN Money. I asked him where he came up with the idea, and if he’s gotten a lot of reaction. He replied within just a few minutes. Here’s his unedited response: “Oh yes, there’s been lots of reaction to it – mostly negative. The idea came from an old S&P study showing that, thanks to higher wages and better fuel economy, people have to work half the hours now to drive the same distance as they did in the early 1980s. The study was done using 2006 numbers, but the general premise still holds true: Gas prices don’t hurt as much now as they used to.”
As of 8:15 a.m. Friday morning (3/23/2012), Hargreaves’ article was just short of 2,000 comments.
For the sake of privacy I’ve omitted last names from the comments that I’ve taken from the Facebook thread. Thanks for all those who took the time to reply to the thread.