Has reliance on gas-powered vehicles finally reached a tipping point?

For anyone who depends on driving for their livelihood and otherwise, driving past a gas station on the road adds to a long-standing nightmare. As it stands, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is currently $4,164, according to the US Energy Information Administration. This is a new all-time high, eclipsing the previous high of $4,103 set in 2008. Prices are expected to rise further due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, even taking into account small immediate price drops, which reduced a already tight supplies of oil and gas even tighter.

As GOBankingRates previously reported, GasBuddy expects the average price to hit $4.25 a gallon by May and likely stay above $4 through at least November. Coupled with the fact that inflation rates are at historic highs, all combustion engine vehicle drivers are feeling the pain. While it’s hard to see positives, the current energy cost crisis has potential upsides if viewed in the right frame of mind. Specifically, in a few years, we may find that the world’s high cost of gasoline is the tipping point needed to break our reliance on fuel-powered cars and our reliance on personal vehicles as an overly consumer favorite.

Maximizing crude oil permits here in the United States is not an easy solution because the United States is already the world’s largest producer of crude oil, which makes sense because it is also the largest consumer of oil in the world, using about 20% of the world total. Oil prices were already rising before Russia invaded Ukraine, and a drop in oil permits has not been a major contributor to the current shortage. Despite its top clean energy priorities, the Biden administration’s oil and gas permit count has kept pace with the early years of the Trump administration. According to a CNN analysis of drilling permit data from the Bureau of Land Management, President Biden’s administration approved 3,537 drilling permits in its first year, more than the number issued in each of the first three. years of the Trump administration.

Prior to the current gas crisis, COVID-19 decimated public transportation, especially in places like Los Angeles and elsewhere where the number of public transportation uses was already declining and reliance on the automobile is still important. California’s Bay Area is one of the slowest areas to recover, from a transit perspective. Remote work is literally killing public transport. But, if gas prices continue to remain at historic highs and inflation continues to soar, the silver lining of all those price hikes could be a saving grace for public transit, which needs to bring back passengers on board and timetables revert to pre-COVID-19 deadlines.

However, state measures to ease gas price pain may delay the return to public transit that is likely needed. In recent weeks, the governors of Maryland and Georgia signed laws temporarily suspending their state’s gasoline taxes, while Georgia also offered $1.1 billion in refunds to taxpayers as part of a separate action.

California average gas prices hit a new weekly high of $5.856 a gallon in late March, about $2 higher than a year ago, according to the US Energy Information Administration. California has the second highest gasoline tax in the nation at $0.51 per gallon. The Governor of California is now offering rebates of up to $800 to ease gas problems. For California residents without a car, Governor Newsom wants the state to pay for their public transit for three months. But perhaps it would be just as (or more) effective if drivers received $800 rebates for choosing a recurring mode of transportation other than solo driving in hopes of promoting public transit use. , which is absolutely necessary in the state.

The pandemic-induced impact on public transportation has been particularly harsh in places like California’s major metros and other areas where automobile use remains high. And, in addition to low ridership, there is a shortage of workers for transit and other local government positions, resulting in limited hours on many transit lines. This leads to longer travel times and negatively impacts customer experience.

Transit cuts will likely continue to be painful until ridership demands force transit agencies to expand services and better meet customer expectations. It’s a tricky chicken-and-egg quagmire that could soon be solved by soaring gas prices and a lack of enough new electric cars to replace gas-powered vehicles.

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