Transportation: We’re Number 1 (Gas Guzzlers)

Story and photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – The Triangle is again Number #1 in the nation. But this time it’s for gas guzzling.

Pain at the Pump

An article last week in Forbes online looked at where high gas prices are causing the most pain.

With gas hovering around $3.90 a gallon in the Triangle, it’s no picnic. But others pay even more. Gas is $4.60 a gallon in Hawaii according to Forbes.

But Hawaiians drive a whole lot less than we do. Multiply the number of miles driven per household for a particular region times the average miles per gallon (20.3) and multiply that by the gas price and you’ll have the national gasoline pain index.

We’re Number #1.

21,800 Miles Per Year

According to the Center for Neighborhood Technology (the source for Forbes’ data), households in the Triangle on average drive 21,800 miles per year. That equates to 1,074 gallons of gas or about $4200. Ouch.

Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill was right behind with 1,061 gallons per household per year. Greensboro was #6 on the list, consuming 1,017 gallons annually.

By comparison, big cities with well-established transportation networks fared far better. Households in Los Angeles used just 630 gallons per year. And New Yorkers barely sipped at the petroleum trough for lowest consumption in the country, just 481 gallons.

How About That Railroad

Fast growing regions like the Triangle have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to transportation infrastructure.

The widening of I-40 between Raleigh and Cary as well as the opening of I-540 in Western Wake County will save gas by decreasing the amount of time commuters spend in stop-and-go traffic. In Atlanta, drivers burn 35 gallons of gas a year just sitting in traffic, according to the Forbes story.

Residents of the Triangle will likely have an opportunity in the near future to put transportation in the region on the road away from this dubious distinction. Plans are in the works for voters to be asked to approve a 1/2 cent  increase in the sales tax to fund more mass transportation including regional rail.

Given the trajectory of gas prices, a vote to rev up mass transit in the Triangle seems like a wise route to take.

3 replies
  1. Davy
    Davy says:

    Two things;

    1. We need to live closer to where we work, live, play and shop.
    2. Buy vehicles that are more fuel efficient.

  2. Lindsey Chester
    Lindsey Chester says:

    The solution is better efficiency on the cars we already drive and construction that places homes closer to where we work and play. In Cary it seems as soon as the kids turn 16 the parents run out and buy another car. many of my friends insure upwards of 3 cars. A friend stated recently to me that she fills her son’s car WEEKLY with $80 of gas! Where is this 17 year old driving 300 miles a week? (school is less than 3 miles away) Many folks would rather drive their kid to school than have them take a bus, would rather drive themselves alone to work, would rather drive their one kid to practice…. With a little planning and forethought we could all do a better job of conservation and with gas prices inching towards $4/gallon, we all may have to.

  3. Kyle Skrinak
    Kyle Skrinak says:

    Mass transit won’t get my girls to soccer, dance or my boy to baseball practice. Shooting from hip, I’d guess there’s also a correlation between average family size in the min-max noted. Increasing gas prices even more is a nice solution for the wealthy to tolerate; the rest of us, no thanks. The solution isn’t to stymie gas consumption; it’s to increase drilling and production capacity.

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