High gas prices have many scrambling for alternative transportation or extra income to cover their expenses. Prices in Georgia, along with other Southern states, remain well above the national average of $3.85. On Wednesday, AAA’s daily gas survey placed Georgia’s gasoline at the nation’s sixth-highest price. The Atlanta average was $4.14 per gallon, the survey showed, with lower costs outside the perimeter.
Temporary pipeline shutdowns or supply problems in the region created by Hurricane Ike may be to blame for the surge at the pump. After a drop over the past few days, crude oil prices bounced back Wednesday as metro Atlanta gas stations continued to have limited supplies, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Fluctuations in crude oil typically take time to affect gas prices, but eventually pump prices follow. In the meantime, budget-conscious students can offset the increased costs by following our guide:
Pull a Clark Howard; go online
Sites like www.atlantagasprices.com help drivers find the least expensive gas in their area. Visitors to the site can filter search results by Atlanta neighborhoods or gasoline quality.
A gallon of regular unleaded may cost $4.16 at the Marathon just off campus while it goes for $3.95 at the BP on Piedmont Road. If you’re commuting to class from the metro area, you’re probably in a situation similar to the average Atlantan, driving 66 miles round-trip per day. Based on a 21 mpg fuel economy, that’s 3.14 gallons used each weekday. It doesn’t seem like much but a daily savings of 65 cents can really add up. Filling up at the cheapest place in town could save you $13 per month, or $153 a year.
As the saying goes, it’s gas, grass or …well, no one rides for free. The concept of carpooling traditionally involves equally dividing the cost of gas among the driver and any passengers. Tell your moocher friends to take a hike if they can’t cough up the cash. With gas prices well over $4.00 a gallon, you cannot afford to carry their dead weight around in your car. Sites like www.MyRideSmart.com provide confidential carpool matching services for the Atlanta area. Bonus: remember the elusive HOV lane? It’s all yours with a friend in the passenger seat. You’ll be flying by grid locked traffic on I-75 in no time.
How far would you go to cut the cost of gas in half? Companies like Gas for Half will pay for up to 475 gallons of gasoline per year to drivers who let them wrap their car in a printed vinyl covering. The vehicle wraps feature messages from advertisers who want to market to people along the driver’s daily commute to and from work. Gas for Half pays for alternative transportation while your car is being wrapped and sends a check each month after that. Drivers are occasionally required to provide proof of mileage and pictures of the vehicle during the campaign. Applicants who are not interested in promoting a specific company that chooses their car may elect not to participate and wait for the next advertiser to select their vehicle. Ready to sign up? Go to www.GasForHalf.com. However, participants should plan on having a dirty car for the duration of the advertisement: high pressure washes, wax and ice scrapers damage the vinyl coating.
MARTA is smarta
A 30-day MARTA pass for $52.50 easily comes in at $195 less than the price of gas each month ($248) if you’re driving to class from the suburbs. Factor in the price of a Tech parking permit—roughly $600 per semester—and Marta really is smarta. You will save approximately $241 each month by skipping out on the costs of gas and parking. Catch the Tech Trolley at the Midtown MARTA station for a straight shot to campus. Clayton, Cobb, and Gwinnett counties offer 30-day express passes for their transit systems ranging from $52.50 – $100.
Drive like a grandma
Otherwise known as fuel-efficient driving, going the speed limit can help you make the most of a gallon. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town, according to FuelEconomy.gov.
Fuel-efficient fans get the maximum mileage out of their gas tanks by leaving the AC off, keeping the tires properly inflated, and changing the oil on a regular basis. Capitalize on your car’s fuel economy by not using the trunk as a storage solution: a tank guzzles more gas when the car has a heavier load to carry. Shutting off the engine instead of idling also ensures the greatest mileage out of your gas.
Grandma might also remind you that sensible driving is safer; you may save something more valuable than gas.
Bike or walk for prizes
Don’t have time to make it to the CRC? Stay in shape by walking or biking to class instead.
While this isn’t open to students for their commutes to school, students doing co-op assignments or internships will appreciate that the Clean Air Campaign—through their Commuter Rewards program will pay you to take transit instead of polluting the air with your vehicle’s emissions. Eligible participants may earn $3 per day over a 90-day period.
If your daily commute already consists of biking, you can enter to win a $25 gift card through the Campaign’s Commuter Prizes. The more often you use an alternative commute, the more likely you are to win. Visit www.CleanAirCampaign.com for details.
Right turns only
Take a cue from UPS drivers and map out an alternative route that only involves right turns. In recent years, Atlanta-based UPS has made headlines with its “no left turns” plan for fuel conservation. The logic behind this system is that right turns at an intersection tend to be faster than at a left turns. With right turns, you have the option of turning at a red light, unless otherwise indicated by traffic signs, and you only have to wait for an opportunity to turn in one lane of traffic. Less idling at traffic lights means better gas mileage. Use a GPT system to make your new route.