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July 9, 2008

Saving money on gas prices

Posted: 10:45 AM ET

Yeah, another bad headline - doesn't sound possible, you say?  You may be right.  But I just saved $350 outright because gas prices are so high.

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A decade ago, we opted to move pretty far away from the center city:  27 miles from the driveway to CNN Center in Atlanta.  The decision was largely due to the prospects for our three school-age kids:  A shaky, in-town school district versus a well-regarded one farther away.  And since the State of Georgia always finishes in the Top 50 among State Educational Quality, we went for it.

The kids have had a good shake in their schools, so no regrets.  But the costs for Daddy driving to work have included up to two-hour commutes, plus more recently, brutal gasoline costs, even with a 32MPG car.

A few years ago, in a nod more to traffic burdens than to energy or environmental concerns, Georgia rolled out commuter buses to far-flung places like Conyers, GA.  Five per day, from the commuter lot next to the Rockdale County Jail into downtown Atlanta.  So yes, I go to the County Jail at least twice a week.

Being in the 24-hour news business, I feel obligated to give you the Bad News First:  The last bus in is at 8am; the last bus back is at 6:15pm.   This does not always fit the bipolar nature of covering 24-hour news.  Bottom Line:  I can't always rely on the bus - not for late nights, or weekend work.  The Good News?  My employers have had the foresight to let me keep my parking privileges for when I have to drive, plus a part-time pass for the bus.

With minor inconvenience, I can take two bus trips a week to work, with little or no compromise to my workload,  saving 2 gallons of charitable donation to the oil companies per day, plus environmental benefits, per round trip.  But I called my insurer (GEICO), and they also told me that the reduced mileage on my car would save me about $350 a year on insurance costs.   Whoa!! Just think how much extra gasoline I can afford now!!!  I won't have to take the damn bus!!! (Just kidding).

Actually, the bus isn't bad.  It's still only about half full each day, which is amazing to me.  I can listen to my IPod on the way in (it has a lot of songs on it, and you wouldn't like most of them....), and I arrive at work bearing no anger to all the Barbarians and Fools who would tailgate me or cut me off on Interstate 20 on the way in (full disclosure:  It's never my fault as a driver; to quote Dustin Hoffman, I'm an excellent driver.) .  Oh, and on the way in,  I read stuff, too.  One more note:  They're considering Commuter Rail from many towns like Conyers, but 'round here, the feelings still run strongly about General Sherman tearing up the railroad tracks 144 years ago, so it may take a while longer for the State Legislature to warm up to the idea.

So I'd like to thank the Oil Companies, OPEC, the shrinking dollar, the increased international demand, the speculators, the guys who blow up the pipelines in Nigeria every week, and everyone else who's been blamed for high oil prices for making my ride to work more relaxed and a tad cheaper, at least twice a week. 

Peter Dykstra    Executive Producer   CNN Science, Tech & Weather

Filed under: Cars • climate change • environment • Fuel • Gas • Gasoline


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Judy   July 9th, 2008 11:39 am ET

So a guy takes a bus twice a week. Why does this make CNN news?


MIKE, chicago suburbs   July 9th, 2008 1:16 pm ET

So glad your able to save some $$ were all trying to tighten the belt. Sorry to say but your educational system is doing you no justice. You see the Fact that the State of Georgia always finishes in the Top 50 among State Educational Quality, Top 50 of what ....our 50 STATES we have here in the USA. You should really look into private education.


CAFEto50mpgNOW   July 9th, 2008 1:27 pm ET

I congratulate you for saving money and using less gas by taking advantage of a half-full (half-empty?) bus twice a week that is probably subsidized in one way or another by the taxpayer. However, you would have done society both an environmental and educational service by never having moved in the first place. It is responsible people like yourself that in deserting "shaky" school districts only make them more shaky because the irresponsible parents that have caused the shaky situation remain, and continue to have children and make the situation more shaky. And shaky doesn't begin to describe how unsafe some school districts really are.


Randy Bisenz   July 9th, 2008 2:15 pm ET

Increased use of public transportation on a large scale would make a major impact on our demand for oil. We will need to invest in more bus and rail lines and parking lots to make this work.

There are other ways to reduce our fuel costs. Keeping our a keeping our automobiles in better tune and keeping tire pressure constant can increase our mileage. Consumers can force service stations to be more competitive by paying attention to which station has the lowest price and buying more gas when prices are cheaper – the free market only works when retailers are forced to be competitive to get our business.

If you would like more tips on reducing your fuel usage check out the editorial Simple Fuel Efficiency on the http://www.brightfuture.us blog.


yodabomb   July 9th, 2008 2:33 pm ET

Wouldn't there only be 50 states in the State Educational Quality survey? Okay, maybe 51 with Puerto Rico. Is being in the "Top 50" really that prestigious?


Franko   July 9th, 2008 2:50 pm ET

When you add everything up, gasoline, maintenance,
depreciation, insurance, CO2 taxes, only Al Gore can drive carefree.

Then creep along in.rush hour, cars cutting in front,
fender benders. What happened to telecommuting ?

People move to the suburbs to get away from each other,
then commute to meet with those chosen by the employers.


Allen N Wollscheidt   July 9th, 2008 4:13 pm ET

Obviously, irony is lost on the troops.

There is a very simple, inexpensive and effective means to increase bus ridership : Gradually close the parking spaces, beginning with the ones closest in. Key word : GRADUAL, while we build those buses and expand the park-n-ride lots.

Out in Phoenix, AZ, the corresponding buses are standing room only and park-n-ride lots are full a half hour before departure, I am told. That in a city many of whose "conservative" citizens noisily insists that they as Americans have a right-to-drive ! ! ! Wonder what they plan to conserve, anyway.
.

The residual folks back here in the East are just a bit slow, that's all.


steve   July 9th, 2008 5:38 pm ET

I think the top 50 coment was a joke.

I commute by bike and ride by al the people sitting there at the lights, engines running, gas burning, going no where. It takes me 10 min to get to work by car and 15 by bike. Added benefits: healthy excercise and stress reduction. There are alternatives, we just have to make them work.


Allen N Wollscheidt   July 9th, 2008 7:40 pm ET

Steve –

Do NOT do that in Brunswick, GA.

Traffic signals apply equally to ALL vehicles ! ! !

.


CB_Brooklyn   July 9th, 2008 9:07 pm ET

Once we understand what's behind this so-called "energy crisis", we can work to solve it.

First, watch this short Reuters news video:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrxfMz2eDME&w=640&h=390]

Then read this article:
http://www.checktheevidence.co.uk/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=182&Itemid=60


Jav   July 10th, 2008 12:45 am ET

Oh please everyone, stop putting excuses as to why the man can't do what's best for his own family. You have a family of your own and would do anything to take care of it, that is if you stop thinking of yourself.

I'm tired of people ranking on other people because of their bitterness in this system. Whenever someone tries to do something good, someone has to come and point out only the negatives, but no one take time to look for the positive. That's what so many families break down and leave each other. This world isn't gonna get any better, it's govern by satan so please stop complaining. Haven't you noticed how society has been getting worst since the begining????

If you feel any human government organization will fix problems related to gas or war or hunger or crime or hate... think again. Be realistic for once... that will never happened. We are all imperfect, so any organization created by men will always be defected. It will never bring true peace, especially with everyone having their "me first" way of thinking.

So please grow up and rather than focusing on other peoples problems, start resolving your own.


Franko   July 10th, 2008 12:57 am ET

People want to discriminate, to have likeable, non threatening, neighborhoods. Inner city living requires prejudiced behaviour, pretending that your neighbors are are safe to be near. (Prejudice is a form of lack of discrimination)

Commuting costs are the price, of the necessity, to find a way to discriminate.


s callahan   July 10th, 2008 12:58 am ET

Now that was a fun read!


hba   July 10th, 2008 1:06 am ET

Have to cut cost on meal and family entertainment (that's a sacrifice I have to bear when facing with fuel hike).

Bus and train really inconvenience in my country.
Right now still hoping the government would improve public transportation.

cheers..


Rajan   July 10th, 2008 4:42 am ET

Seriously, USA needs to have more orgainzed railways that criss crosses the cities and within cities also the metro trains, like in London, singapore or Tokyo.

May be trams that are pwoered by electricity and so on and get away from large cars.

The consturction and use of such infrastructure is not going to happen overnight. But certainly in the meantime, people can switch to fuel efficient cars that are available in plenty and also to cars that run on ethanol and other bio-fuels. People have to do such conversion in large numbers – so that the greedy oil companies go bust once and for all.


Allen N Wollscheidt   July 10th, 2008 10:37 am ET

Rajan –

Biofuel - based on conventional agriculture - is NOT AT ALL a solution but rather a part of the problem.

Do some more reading ! ! !
.


Corwin   July 10th, 2008 11:34 am ET

Peter –
I enjoyed the blog. "Top 50" – that was a good one. If everyone just did a little (like take the bus once in a while, turned off the excess lights, etc.) it would go a long way. If everyone had a sense of humor, it would go even further.
T. Bone Pickens will have this solved by the end of summer.🙂


Mike Farman, Palestine, Texas   July 10th, 2008 11:55 am ET

Great for those who live in a city.....for those of us living in small towns in rural areas, the only buses visible for 100 miles are school buses. No company is going to make a profit from running buses, and there's no prospect, if ever, at least for the next 30 years, of passenger rail servces. What should we do? Everybody move to the big towns?


S Callahan   July 10th, 2008 12:34 pm ET

Being a mutt of Danish, Dutch,and Irish lineage..I remember my late Grandmother on the Dutch side commenting about the use of windmills and what a waste that America did not make better use of them.
Wish I had the vast resources to invest with Mr. Pickens as i think he is on to something good for our country.....


the haigh   July 10th, 2008 1:42 pm ET

Congratulations to all of you who have "solved" the oil crisis. Personally, I ride my bike to the nearby stores, feel a lot healthier, and hope that all other Americans follow suit. To Hell with BIG OIL and their hostage-taking oil supplying countries.


Pat Brendel   July 10th, 2008 1:58 pm ET

There is a lot of money to be made in the alternative energy market and that validates Mr. Pickens intense interest. I’m sure he’s looking at this as a way to make more money and there’s nothing wrong with that when it benefits the greater good.

In addition to the production of clean, sustainable energy, there would be the added benefit of many manufacturing jobs making the parts for the turbines and solar panels in places like Michigan and Pennsylvania where so many jobs have been lost. And, you’ll need construction people to actually put the turbines and panels in place and keep them operating so it’s a double benefit for the economy.

It is a plan. But, in addition to wind power and solar power we need to come up with ways to use the traditional sources of power, gas and oil, more efficiently and with much less environmental impact. Even if we found another 2,000 years worth of oil buried in the Midwest, we could not in good conscience continue burning this stuff. To do so would seal the fate of the planet and guarantee our own extinction.

Why do these wind turbines have to be based in the Midwest? What about the Mojave Desert? What could be closer to California? What about wind turbines all along our huge coastline? Part of the problem, as we have seen in Massachusetts, is that the very wealthy people who are able to buy prime real estate along the Massachusetts coast do not want their view of Nantucket Sound disturbed by wind turbines. This kind of thinking must stop in the face of global warming which is clearly heightened by our continued and ever-increasing use of fossil fuels. Views and vistas must take a backseat to the need for clean renewable energy. As far as getting the energy to where it needs to go, I’m sure that the great scientific minds of our world can figure out a way to conduct this energy where it needs and a way to store it for use when the wind fails. And, at some future time as research on alternative forms of energy continues, we may find something better than wind that will make the wind turbines outdated. But, right now, if they wanted to put one in my back yard, that would be fine with me.

Again, not all sources of alternative power would necessarily suit all locations but we need to get started on the research, development and implementation of new power sources. We can even it out later.


gillimus   July 10th, 2008 2:02 pm ET

good thing that oil companies are propping up your 401(k) like mine. i just pray that the stewards of my retirement have made a big bet on commodities.


Franko   July 11th, 2008 3:43 am ET

Convenient reference point is where the rubber meets the road.
Where the money takes wings, and soars from your wallet.

Gasoline at $ 4.50 in Toyota hybrid (35% efficiency) 15 Kwh/gallon = $ 0.30
Off peak electricity at $0.038/Kwh, conversion inefficiencies, maybe = $ 0.10

Future is electric. Most versatile is the power wheel, with various , easily changeable, generator set options and batteries. The compressed air generator set is the one that I like the best. Run out of air, take out your tire pump and pump a while.


Scott   July 11th, 2008 10:54 am ET

Peter...I hope the State of Georgia finished in the top 50. If they were 51...that would mean Puerto Rico beat them.


Dave   July 11th, 2008 11:59 am ET

In your words, "And since the State of Georgia always finishes in the Top 50 among State Educational Quality, we went for it." Just curious, is it possible for any state (at last check there were only 50) not to included in the top 50?


Beckie   July 11th, 2008 2:51 pm ET

It must be nice to live in an area where reliable public transportation exists. My 10 minute car ride to work would be a 2 1/2 hour bus commute, with three transfers. I've tried it. It doesn't work.


In honor of the weekend: drinking - Early Retirement Forums   July 11th, 2008 4:11 pm ET

[...] Ah statistics and rankings – is there anything you can't help our reasoning with? "And since the State of Georgia always finishes in the Top 50 among State Educational Quality, we went for it". SciTechBlog: Blog Archive – Saving money on gas prices – Blogs from CNN.com [...]


Brian   July 11th, 2008 4:45 pm ET

Try carpooling. You might think that no one lives close by but RideSearch.com is nationwide. People are finding others to carpool to work and are saving money!


Mark   July 11th, 2008 4:52 pm ET

I sense FAIL.


Sarah   July 11th, 2008 4:57 pm ET

I'm tired of all the bad press Atlanta Public Schools receive. If I remember correctly APS actually ranks better than some of the suburban schools...you're the one who moved...so why are you complaining?


Coprus   July 11th, 2008 5:03 pm ET

The top 50 remark just kills me.


Duke of URL   July 11th, 2008 5:10 pm ET

Looking at the comments, it's amazing how many readers of what's supposedly a scientific technical column are incapable of recognizing sarcasm, humor or snarkiness. Hm. Wonder if they're all products of Georgia Public Eddication...


Yeah Right   July 11th, 2008 5:13 pm ET

What a MORON!!!! '...always finishes in the top 50'.....Hey bongo - you need to go back to school - seems like you missed the fact their are only 50 states in our union!!!


pdykstra   July 11th, 2008 5:19 pm ET

From the Blogger:

I try not to get defensive when going through the comments, but there are a couple of remarkable, recurring themes here I have to respond to:

1) "Georgia ranks in the top 50 States for educational quality."
Feel free to tell me if you think that's a bad joke (I've got a lot of those), but IT'S A JOKE, PEOPLE! I know how many states there are, but thanks for watching my back.

2) And for the folks who would like to guilt-trip me for moving my kids out of a lousy school district (which, by the way, Sarah is incorrect in assuming I'm talking about Atlanta City Schools): Do you find anything incongruous with Saving the Earth for "our Children" by putting "our children" in a terrible school? No apologies or regrets, except for the driving part. The elementary school in College Park, GA was at the time rated as one of the poorest in the state, and Georgia, in turn, consistently ranks in the bottom five states by measure of SAT scores and other ratings. (So it's in the top 50, get it?) So where my kids got a chance to go to a public school is a big deal for me, and I don't think that makes me a bad person.

Thanks to all who responded, even if you didn't get the joke.
Peter Dykstra


Woody   July 11th, 2008 5:20 pm ET

I recently heard from a politician that we had fifty-seven states, which was one of his changes–so, Georgia's schools beats those last seven.


BobH   July 11th, 2008 5:21 pm ET

What a humor-challenged, negative bunch commenting here! The Top 50 thing was humor. No, the bus won't work for everyone, but as he points out, it *will* work for a lot of people that are not currently using it.

And he politely referred to the city school system as "shaky" when piss-poor would probably be a better description. Those who blame him for seeking out the best education for his children are just being ridiculous.


LaMonte   July 11th, 2008 5:29 pm ET

According to the cappuccino candidate for president, being in the top fifty would mean there are seven states with a lower ranking...
But don't go there - it would be a distraction.


Ferdinand Narcos   July 11th, 2008 6:00 pm ET

It's not news,it's CNN.


Obvious Man   July 11th, 2008 8:26 pm ET

First off, this is not news.

On the other hand, in spite of the fact that Backwoods (Georgia) is known for it's general lack of an inmtelligence score, I suppose his kids may actually be getting an above average education even by the whole country's standards, if their teachers hands-on tutoring approach is anything like Florida's. (STEREOTYPICAL FACT PROVEN TRUE: ALL TEACHERS, ALL OF THEM, SLEEP WITH THEIR STUDENTS IN FLORIDA.)


Chisphy Nanos   July 11th, 2008 9:31 pm ET

Gergias skool sistim werkd fur me?


Willow   July 11th, 2008 10:22 pm ET

I live in a small town in Iowa. The grocery store is 4 blocks away, the Pharmacy is next to that, and the hospital is only 2 blocks from my house. I still drive a bit because a tank of gas (50.00) will last me right now about 3 weeks. that's if I take a few trips to Walmart 30 miles away.

If the price of gas continues to go up, I will get a three wheeled bike with a big basket on it for shopping. And I will put my 4 cyl truck in the garage. But with winter coming along, there will be lots of times I can't take my three wheeler to the store. But I feel very blessed to be in a small town in Iowa.


Franko   July 12th, 2008 1:50 am ET

"seems like you missed the fact their are only 50 states in our union!!!"

Think Global Empire, Imperialism, Boston Tea Party.
All the billions, who are also Human, and can count past 50,
forcefully, tax, but not vote, included.


Laura   July 12th, 2008 4:48 pm ET

Ok Franko: You are one to talk... their instead of there.

But I agree. I live in Georgia and it is not necessarily what I would call the greatest state for public education, which you have illustrated by simply stating that Georgia is thankfully one of the Top 50 States for Educational Quality.

That is just sad.

Look into private education.


Kay   July 12th, 2008 4:51 pm ET

$4.09 for regular gas! Man you're lucky. The Mobile down the road from me is $4.23... and the other Mobile one mile farther down the road is $4.33... and the one across from Siena college is $4.29. Gas prices in upstate NY make no sense.😦

What I don't understand is why you are forced to come to the office when your job is to post a blog. I would think telecommuting would be possible and a better alternative for some journalists. You could save on bus fair and (if CNN didn't need to host another computer and its worker) the office could save energy.


Jim   July 13th, 2008 11:00 pm ET

It would've been perfect, had God burried Mid East oil under the ground of Pennsylvania... sigh! Missed it.


Fabien Eldridge   July 15th, 2008 12:13 pm ET

If we had used the funds from the war , in making hydrogen generators and placing them accordingly, and since we spent so much we could have given everyone a new car and recycled their old ones. We could have avoided the war altogether and now our economy would be thriving and new jobs would have been created.Plus there would be no food shortage and Hunger in the U.S. I guess the Bush family was, is making too much from oil sales with there partners in the Middle east? I wonder how much Bush senior has made in the past 8 years, from his oil holdings????


Sparkle   July 20th, 2008 9:26 am ET

My daughter, and I took in a movie the other day, and, it cost $5.00 each to get inside for the matinee. We got a small popcorn, and a small drink, and those four items set me back $18.00.
I did not notice going in, but coming out, it was clear that I owned the only sub compact in the entire parking lot. My husband makes two hundred, and fifity dollars an hour, and I'm the only tiny car in a full parking lot. There's something wrong with this picture.


Kyle Fluto   October 6th, 2008 2:38 pm ET

Id have to agree with alot of you, my brother recently went to Austria to study abroad, and although gas prices are sky high there, they have a massive public transportation sytstem including; buses, subways, trains etc. Its a great addition to the infrastructure over in Austria by greatly reducing the amount of fuel the country uses, and creates cheap and efficent transportation for its people. The US needs to hurry up with a new transportation sytem or a new cheap reliable fuel for our cars because gas prices are killing our economy. I remember before the war started, gas was around $1.40 and now it varies from $3.00 to $4.00. Somthing needs to change quick or im gonna be eating out of a garbage can.


Edwardo Wendler   June 3rd, 2013 6:05 pm ET

Manufacturing takes turns under all types of economic systems. In a free market economy, manufacturing is usually directed toward the mass production of products for sale to consumers at a profit. In a collectivist economy, manufacturing is more frequently directed by the state to supply a centrally planned economy. In mixed market economies, manufacturing occurs under some degree of government regulation.:',.

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