Gas prices are surpassing their historic high watermark in the fleeting days of winter. This morning’s average price is $3.74 a gallon in the Washington metro area, and from coast to coast, and it is $3.86 a gallon in Washington, D. C. proper.
Higher pump prices are not only forcing metro area motorists and commuters to change their driving habits, gas prices are also compelling them to stand in slug lines for a ride to work and to sign up for carpool options with RideShare, and even to click on to CraigsList to find ways of beating the cost of gas, observes AAA Mid-Atlantic and Commuter Connections.
“The pace of retail gasoline increases has slowed in recent days, the cost of gas continues to venture into never before seen territories, and motorists are weighing their options,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic ‘s Manager of Public and Government Affairs.
“We changed our driving habits when gas prices soared to into record terrain and hit four dollars a gallon for the first time ever in 2008 and we are doing it again in the wake of the latest spike in gas prices. One upside for motorists living in the Washington metropolitan area is the ability to have a back-up commuting plan when they do not want to drive.”
In several senses, the high cost of gas has a way of serving as a wake-up call to commuters. It sends a powerful message: there are options to driving to work alone. As a result, c carpooling is making a comeback in the Washington metro area, as it is in other parts of the region and country.
In fact, history and experience show, new rideshare applications tend to go up and stay up while gasoline prices are on the rise, notes Commuter Connections. As proof, new ridesharing applications increased by double digits, 20 percent, last year, the most expensive year ever for the cost of gasoline.
“Commuters have more reasonably priced choices they can make in the way they travel to and from work,” commented Nicholas Ramfos, Director of Commuter Connections at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. “Ridesharing even just one day a week can cut commuting costs by 20 percent.”
In 2008, when gas prices soared to four dollars and higher for the first time ever, the Washington metro area saw a spike in the number of applicants for the Commuter Connections Ridesharing Program. The numbers increased by 48 percent between May 2007 and May 2008. What is more, the number of carpool applicants increased by 22 percent in just one month, from April 2008 to May 2008, according to Commuter Connections officials.
The Commuter Connections Ridesharing Program provides residents with a free list of commuters who are interested in carpooling/vanpooling, who have similar work schedules and commutes. According to information provided by Commuter Connections, over 20,000 commuters rely on their services to provide free, up-to-the-minute ridesharing information.
“There are a lot of things a driver can do to save some money at the pump,” adds Townsend. To this end, AAA Mid-Atlantic and Commuter Connections offer the following tips to help motorists save money in these times of increasing gas prices:
- Consider Alternative Ways of Commuting – Make carpooling a part of your routine once a week. Consider participating in Rideshare Tuesday.
- Drive Sensibly – Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas and lowers gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and by 5 percent around town.
- Observe The Speed Limit – Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Also, observing the speed limit keeps motorists and their passengers safer.
- Remove Excess Weight – Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle. An additional 100 pounds could reduce your vehicle’s MPG by up to two percent.
- Keep Your Engine Properly Tuned – Having an engine tuned can improve its gas mileage by an average of four percent. Fixing other serious maintenance problems can improve gas mileage by as much as 40 percent.
- Plan And Combine Trips – Making several short trips can use twice as much fuel as longer multipurpose trips. Trip planning ensures that traveling is done when the engine is warmed-up and it can reduce the distance you travel. The AAA TripTik mobile app gives motorists turn-by-turn directions and lists daily fuel costs at gas stations near a user’s location.
- Choose A More Efficient Vehicle – Selecting which vehicle to purchase is the most important fuel economy decision you will make. Use www.fueleconomy.gov’s Find and Compare Cars section to find the most fuel efficient vehicle that will meet your needs.