Gas Prices Have Risen 41 Days in a Row: Is It Good for the Environment?

High Gas Prices: Impact on Environment
But one thing is certain, economic incentives works, even for people who's attitude to environmental problems is "don't know, don't care". Here's an excerpt of a post about miles driven in the US from April 2008:

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has released its number for highway miles driven for April, and the downward trend is continuing. Drivers in the US traveled 1.4 billion fewer highway miles, and 20 billion miles for all public roads compared to last years, or 1.8% less. Cummulatively, 2008 is down 2.1% from 2007 so far. Not surprisingly, public transit is becoming more popular.

"The Secretary noted that data show mid-size SUV sales were down last month 38% over May of last year; car sales, which had accounted for less than half of the industry volume in 2007, rose to 57% in May. She said past trends have shown Americans will continue to drive despite high gas prices, but will drive more fuel efficient vehicles consuming less fuel."

More posts from 2008 on this:

Photo: Flickr, CC

But it's not only about cars. Here's an excerpt from a post about public transit from May 2008:

The upshot of the record gas prices we're seeing has been the sometimes meteoric rise in the number of drivers switching over to public transit. [...]

"After declining at the end of 2007, L.A. rail and bus ridership started rising in January. From January to March, average weekday boardings were up 16% on the Red Line rail system, 13% on the Blue Line and 17% on the Gold Line, which set a record for highest average weekday boardings in March with 22,231. Bus ridership grew 8% from January to March."

In fact, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released numbers showing that U.S. Public Transit Ridership in 2008 was the Highest in 52 years!

During the period of very high gas prices, there were also reports from all over about an increase in the number of cyclists. For example, in New York City "between 2007 and 2008, the number of individuals cycling to work increased by 35%."

So it seems pretty clear that while higher gas prices won't solve the problems caused by our fossil-fuel dependent transportation sector, they do have a positive impact in that regard. In fact, we can probably expect a bigger change in the future because people will expect the rise in gas prices to be permanent, while the last time around, many still thought it was a temporary fluke.

More on Green(er) Transportation
Retooling the Auto Industry for a Smaller (Yet Profitable) Future
Tesla Motors to Open 7 New Stores in Major Cities
Move Over Insight, Prius is Best Selling Car in Japan in May
Toyota to Lease 500 Lithium-Ion Plug-in Prius Hybrids, But Don't Hold Your Breath...

Tags: Energy | Fuel Efficiency | Transportation


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