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Transportation Nation

Gas Prices Creep Higher -- Especially in DC

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

(photo by Markette Smith)

(Markette Smith -- Washington, DC, WAMU) Gas prices in the D.C. Metro area are up nearly 10 cents from a week ago, and the threat of a conflict in the Middle East may be driving prices up.

In the nation's capital, the average cost per gallon is $3.70, causing people to grumble as they make their regular trips to the pump.

At a gas station on M Street in Northwest, motorists are filling up for $4.49 per gallon for regular fuel. It's one of the highest priced stations in the area.

While fuel prices are traditionally low during the cold weather months, several issues in play at this time may translate into higher gas prices.

"There are three things right now going on that might be driving up oil prices, or that could in the future," says Jeff Colgan, an International Relations professor at American University. (WAMU is licensed to American University).

"One is the U.S. and European embargo on Iranian oil," Colgan continues. "Second is the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran and the third is the Iranian response to all of that, which is the threat to close the Strait of Hormuz and therefore cut off a huge portion of the world's oil supply."

That would include oil from Saudia Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, according to Colgan.

"19 million barrels of oil per day flow through the Strait of Hormuz and if it gets restricted that could drive up gasoline prices around the world, including obviously here in DC," Colgan says.

But John Townsend of AAA-Mid Atlantic says the situation in the Middle East cannot be blamed, because crude oil prices are at a six-week low.

"There's demand destruction out there," he says. "People aren't driving as much and this time of year, they're all working and all nestled down in their jobs, so what, then, would be the reason for gas prices at record highs for this time of year other than pure greed?"

Townsend says D.C. area consumers can expect to pay record high amounts for gas in the coming spring and summer.

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The Takeaway

Can Rebels Boost Oil Production?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Before the uprisings began in Libya in February, the nation produced 1.6 million barrels of oil per day, and was responsible for two percent of the world's oil supplies. Six months ago, shipments stopped at the rebellion grew there. The loss of Libyan oil drove up the price of Brent crude, which is sold to refineries on the United States' east coast.

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Transportation Nation

Fuel Efficiency Standards To Double by 2025

Friday, July 29, 2011

President Obama, Ray LaHood, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (photo courtesy of DOT)

Speaking today in Washington -- half an hour after he urged politicians to reach a compromise on the debt ceiling -- President Barack Obama unveiled an agreement that would double fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The president said these new standards "represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The current fuel economy standards for cars with a 2010 model year are 27.5 m.p.g.

These new corporate average fuel economy standards -- or CAFE standards -- were developed by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. The 54.5 m.p.g. mark applies to the average of the entire fleet of cars and light trucks model years 2017- 2025. Some models could fail to meet 54.5 m.p.g, but then others would have to surpass it to compensate.

Under the plan, the standards for passenger cars will increase by an average of five percent each year, while pick-ups and other light-duty trucks would increase an average of 3.5 percent annually for the first five years. After 2021, both would face a 5 percent annual increase, when cars and light trucks will be required to get 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

"Think about what this means," the president said. "It means that filling up your car every two weeks instead of filling it up every week. It will save a typical family more than $8,000 in fuel costs over time."

The President was joined by representatives from GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, BMW, Volvo, Mitsubishi and Jaguar -- which together account for over 90 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States -- as well as the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the State of California. Mazda, which was reported to be a last-minute holdout, was also on hand.

Who wasn't present? Mercedes parent company Daimler AG, as well as Volkswagen -- two companies which have invested heavily in diesel engines. (The program incentivizes the development of new technology, and administration officials said diesel is already in broad use.)

The president took the opportunity to needle lawmakers about the debt ceiling impasse. "This agreement ought to serve as a valuable lesson for leaders in Washington," he said. "This agreement was arrived at without legislation. You are all demonstrating what can happen when people put aside differences -- these folks are competitors, you've got labor and business, but they decided, we’re going to work together to achieve something important and lasting for the country."

You can read the president's full remarks here and the DOT press release here.

The new standards, however, aren't loophole-free. The administration promised a midterm review of the new standards, which some environmentalists worry will be used by automakers as wiggle room.

Automakers must pay a penalty for failing to meet CAFE standards. According to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration's website: "The penalty for failing to meet CAFE standards recently increased from $5.00 to $5.50 per tenth of a mile per gallon for each tenth under the target value times the total volume of those vehicles manufactured for a given model year. Since 1983, manufacturers have paid more than $500 million in civil penalties. Most European manufacturers regularly pay CAFE civil penalties ranging from less than $1 million to more than $20 million annually. Asian and domestic manufacturers have never paid a civil penalty." Details about CAFE fines can be found here (pdf).

A White House graphic of the new fuel economy standards (image courtesy of the White House)

The White House also released a report (PDF) about the new fuel economy standards.

The president has some other changes he'd like to see car manufacturers adopt. "It’s only a matter of time until Malia gets her learner’s permit," he said. "So I’m hoping to see one of those models that gets a top speed of 15 miles an hour (and) the ejector seat anytime boys are in the car."

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Transportation Nation

If We Can't Afford to Fix Roads, Can We Afford to Build Roads?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New highway construction in Mississippi. Photo by Matt Dellinger.

(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation)  When Scott Walker was running for Governor of Wisconsin last fall, he peppered the airwaves with a campaign spot that made very clear why he planned to stop the proposed Madison-to-Milwaukee high speed rail line: It was going to cost about $810 million dollars to build, he said, and “I’d rather take that money and fix Wisconsin’s crumbling roads and bridges.”

But a new report by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) takes Governor Walker to task for cutting $48 million in local transportation assistance—much of which would be used for road and bridge repair—while proposing a 13% increase in spending on new highway capital projects. WISPIRG’s report “Building Boondoggles?” isn’t fooling anyone with the question mark in its title. The authors, Kyle Bailey and Bruce Speight, make no bones about the “troubling” nature of Walker's “new construction largess.”

In response to a $3.6 Billion state deficit, Bailey and Speight point out, the Governor has suggested cuts “in most areas of the state budget, including education, health care and state assistance for local cities, towns and counties. State funding for local road repair and transit have also been put on the chopping block. Transit in particular has been put at risk by receiving a 10% across the board cut.” At the same time, Walker's belt-tightening left room for a billion-dollar widening of Interstate 90 south of Madison, a $390 million widening of the Tri-County Freeway in Winnebago and Calumet Counties, and the $125 million construction of a four-lane road through Caledonia county between Milwaukee and Racine.

WISPIRG questions the wisdom of these specific projects, which, to be fair, were kicking around for years before Walker became Governor (but then again, so was the Madison-to-Milwaukee high-speed rail project). But more to the point, Bailey and Speight raise the question of how Governor Walker can suggest adding to the new-road budget an amount—$328 million—that could have prevented his cuts to transit and maintenance. (Walker's office respectfully declined to comment for this story.)

Expanding the system while deferring maintenance is not just a Wisconsin thing. According to another report, released today by Taxpayers for Common Sense and Smart Growth America, this is a nationwide habit. The two groups found that between 2004 and 2008, while bridges crumbled and roads deteriorated, states spent 57 percent of their highway budgets on road widening and new road construction.

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Transportation Nation

Pricey Gas or No, Californians Get Out of Town

Friday, May 27, 2011

Yikes! Photo by Ben Trefny.

(San Francisco – Casey Miner, KALW News) Gas prices are up! Or no, wait, maybe they’re down. Either way, a highly unscientific round of calls by TN suggests that Californians are finding ways to get out of town this Memorial Day weekend.

A recent survey by AAA found that while travel numbers aren’t exactly flying off the charts this year, neither are they declining. The survey predicts that just over four million Californians will travel 50 miles or more, a very slight increase over last year. What's more, nearly all of them will drive. AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said the numbers may reflect people’s desire to go on vacation no matter what: about a third of travelers are expected to stay with family and friends rather than in hotels.

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Transportation Nation

Higher Gas Prices Won't Stop Estimated 2 Million Travelers in Florida for Memorial Day Holiday

Friday, May 27, 2011

(Orlando, Fla -Mark Simpson-WMFE)  High gas prices aren't expected to deter crowds from Central Florida this Memorial Day weekend.  Gas prices nationally are hovering around $3.84, about 7 cents higher than Florida's average.

Hotel bookings around Orlando are already higher than last year according to Visit Orlando spokesman Brian Martin, "  So far visitation demand for hotel rooms is up 9 percent."  Martin says he expects the hot summer months of June, July, and August to be strong as well.

2010 was a major slump for visitation, down by about 2 million visitors, but this year is off to much better so far but Martin says it's up in the first four months of 2011.

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The Takeaway

Pump Prices Drive Weekend Plans Off Course

Friday, May 27, 2011

As memorial day approaches, Americans are topping off their gas tanks and getting ready for a long weekend away from home. But with gas prices creeping up across the country, American travel patterns are beginning to shift accordingly. For just over a week now, The Takeaway has been asking listeners to text us the price at their local pump. We’ve collated the information on an interactive map. In this conversation we discuss some of our findings with Andrea Bernstein, Director of the Transportation Nation project and senior correspondent for our flagship station WNYC.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: DC Metro to Shorten Station Names, and House GOP Wants To Privatize the Northeast Corridor

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cars heading toward the Holland Tunnel yesterday (photo by Kate Hinds)

Listeners have been texting the price of gas at the pump to The Takeaway. Today, TN's Andrea Bernstein discusses those findings.  (The Takeaway)

While exiting cap and trade program, NJ Governor Chris Christie pivots on Climate Change (WNYC's Empire Blog)

High gas prices won't be affecting holiday travel. (Marketplace)

House Republicans want to takeaway the Northeast Corridor from Amtrak, giving private investors the task of building and operating high-speed rail service between Washington and Boston. (Washington Post)

There may be less car owners in Manhattan, but real estate developers are betting that the wealthy will pay extra for in-house parking. (New York Times)

DC's Metro will be shortening station names. Names like U Street/African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo or New York Avenue/Florida Avenue/Gallaudet University. (WAMU)

The Los Angeles Times debates the location of future subway stations -- and one participant protests his community's exclusion. "It is inconceivable to many of us who live, work and worship in South Los Angeles that the Crenshaw/LAX line would bypass the heart of the community."

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In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- DC's Metro unveils new LED signs...look familiar, NYkers? (link)

-- the new NY MTA website is easier to use -- unless you're mobile (link)

-- Christie pulls plug on NJ's greenhouse gas initiative (link)

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Transportation Nation

Our Survey: As Gas Prices Rise, Americans Drive Less, Carpool More, Take Mass Transit

Thursday, May 26, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Joe Guyon of Rock Hill, South Carolina says he's bundling his errands and eating locally. A listener in Augusta, GA says he "cuts off his car when I idle." Joe Manrique of North Palm Beach, Florida, says "since my daily commute is approximately 170 miles round trip, I try to walk as much as possible from my office to appointments." A contributor from Flushing New York says "I do my errands on the way home, no matter how tired I am."

Others have started carpooling, gone from being a two-car family to a one-car family, changed over from gasoline to waste vegetable oil fuel, or made sure they bundled errands, rather than driving on multiple shopping trips.

Or they are biking, working from home, going out less, or taking public transit.

Those are some of the findings of our survey with our partner The Takeaway (see map, just below) of gas prices and how they affect behavior.   And these results are bolstered by a number of  broader gauges of consumer behavior.

The American Public Transit Association is just out with a survey of traveler attitudes on public transit. APTA says some 54 percent of nearly 35,000 Americans queried said they planned to take public transit while vacationing this summer -- up from 51 percent two years ago. APTA spokesman Mantill Williams says that represents millions of travelers who will use transit in 2011 that wouldn't have in 2009.

And smaller cars began to sell more rapidly in April.  Hyundai, with its fuel-efficient fleet, reported a record 5.7 percent of the U.S. market.   All car sales are up, but for GM in particular, according to information provided to WNYC by Autodata corporation, car sales are increasing faster than truck sales. Escalade sales plummeted. Market share of the tiny Chevy (and inexpensive) Chevy Aveo soared.

In Houston in April, the number of people signing up for a carpool service tripled.

But we've seen this all before -- when gas prices spiked in 2008, and the changes in consumer behavior were sudden, and profound. Until they weren't.

As of March of this year, demand for fuel-efficient cars was still sluggish. In 2010, the Detroit Free Press reported, “hybrid car sales actually shrunk from 2.9 percent of new vehicle sales to 2.4 percent last year."

In May 2008, as gas prices in some areas topped $5.00 a gallon,  SUV’s were stuck on dealership lots. That month light truck sales -- usually about half of the U.S. market, plummeted to 43 percent of the market, according to figures provide to WNYC by Autodata.

And Americans were driving less, way less.

* In the year Ronald Reagan was elected president,  Americans were driving about 672 hundred billion miles a year.

*By 2008, we were driving five times as much. Needless to say, driving far outpaced population growth.

* But as the effects of the gas price hike sunk in, for the first time in well over a generation, Americans drove less on an annual basis –-
It’s true, Prius sales had been rising in May 2010, by about 41 percent over the year earlier. But SUV sales were up way more. The Chevy Suburban was up 100 percent over the previous year. The Chevy Equinox was up even more – by 256 percent. “This is absolute proof we have the shortest attention spans on the planet,” said Bill Visnic at the time, then a Senior Editor at Edmunds AutoObserver.com. “Just two summers ago, you couldn’t give away an SUV.” Then, gasoline was approaching $5.00 a gallon. As of March of this year, demand for fuel-efficient cars was still sluggish. In 2010, the Detroit Free Press reported, “hybrid car sales actually shrunk from 2.9 percent of new vehicle sales to 29.9 ">by about 57 billion miles.

* And transit ridership jumped to 10.7 billion trips, the highest in 52 years, according to the American Public Transit Association, or APTA.  APTA put ridership increases at well over ten percent in Denver, the state of New Jersey, and Dallas.

But then. Gas prices dropped. In May 2010, gas was a relatively cheap $3.00 a gallon.  Americans began driving again. By March of 2011, we were once again driving towards the historic 2008 high -– we were back up to over 2.9 trillion miles traveled.

And SUV sales? Way up. It’s true, Prius sales had been rising in May 2010, by about 41 percent over the year earlier.  But SUV sales were up way more. The Chevy Suburban was up 100 percent over the previous year. The Chevy Equinox was up even more -– by 256 percent.

“This is absolute proof we have the shortest attention spans on the planet,” said Bill Visnic at the time, then a Senior Editor at Edmunds AutoObserver.com. “Just two summers ago, you couldn’t give away an SUV.”

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The Takeaway

How High Gas Prices Are Driving Your Behavior

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Joe Guyon of Rock Hill, South Carolina says he's bundling his errands and eating locally. A listener in Augusta, GA says he "cuts off his car when I idle." Joe Manrique of North Palm Beach, Florida, says "since my daily commute is approximately 170 miles round trip, I try to walk as much as possible from my office to appointments." A contributor from Flushing New York says "I do my errands on the way home, no matter how tired I am."

Others have started carpooling, gone from being a two-car family to a one-car family, changed over from gasoline to waste vegetable oil fuel, or made sure they bundled errands, rather than driving on multiple shopping trips.

Or they are biking, working from home, going out less, or taking public transit.

Those are some of the findings of our survey (see map, just below) of gas prices and how they affect behavior. And these results are bolstered by a number of  broader gauges of consumer behavior.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Reauthorization Heats Up, Christie's Transpo Plan Vexes NJ Dems, and Today is Chrysler's "Payoff Day"

Monday, May 23, 2011

A sign at an intersection in Queens, NY (photo by wallyg/Flickr)

As Congress takes up transportation reauthorization, advocates are pushing for more safety for cyclists and pedestrians -- particularly older ones. (NPR)

WNYC's Jim O'Grady will be on the Brian Lehrer Show this morning to talk about his reporting on the barely used -- yet city-subsidized -- Yankees parking garage. Tune in at (about) 10:05 am -- FM 93.9, AM 820, and streaming live on wnyc.org.

A Congressman Nadler opinion piece in Politico about infrastructure funding calls on the federal government to "reverse the decline of their mass-transit systems."

NJ Governor Christie's transportation plan -- which borrows over $4 billion for roads, rails and bridges -- is vexing state Democrats. (AP via The Star-Ledger)

The US Attorney's office has opened an investigation into whether the lack of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs in New York City amounts to a violation of parts of the Americans With Disabilities Act. (NY Times)

Today is "payoff day" for Chrysler, as the automaker will wire the billions in loans that it owes to the governments of the US and Canada. (Detroit Free Press)

'Black boxes' may soon be mandatory for automobiles. (Wired/Autopia)

The NYC DOT will start studying Chinatown's parking this summer. (DNA Info)

Which country has the highest -- and lowest -- gas prices in the world? A Marketplace quiz reveals some surprises.

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In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- a church on Long Island is giving away bicycles to undocumented immigrants (link)

-- the New York State Senate passed a bill that would require some trucks to have special safety mirrors (link)

-- Maryland's Purple Line faces safety challenges (link)

-- the census says people move for housing (link)

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The Takeaway

How Are High Gas Prices Changing Your Life?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Average gas prices around the nation have soared to around $4 a gallon. Last time prices were this high was three years ago in May 2008, right during the worst of the recession. Then Americans began to drive less, buy more fuel efficient cars, and take public transportation more often. But according to new projections from AAA, 34.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more next week for the Memorial Day weekend.

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The Takeaway

Gas Prices: Are They Affecting Travel?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

As the summer season comes closer and closer, one question abounds: where are you going for vacation? If you have a large car and a large family, the answer might be closer to home. Gas prices are at a nearly all-time high around the U.S. So, is it really affecting behavior? We've been asking listeners to weigh in with the prices at the pump in their own communities, and whether or not that will have an impact on summer travel. John Manrique, Takeaway listener on WLRN in South Florida talks about his expensive commute. And other listeners weigh in.

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Transportation Nation

New Laws in Central Florida Boost Complete Streets, Bust Gas Gauging

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(Orlando, Fla. — Mark Simpson, WMFE) Central Florida lawmakers took action to stop gas gauging and create complete streets last week. Tourist attractions aside, many towns in Central Florida can be pretty inhospitable to pedestrians and cyclists, with roads so busy it's difficult to ride a bike or even cross the street. Now Winter Park is joining a growing national movement to adopt "complete streets" that accommodate more than just cars. City Commissioners passed a resolution last week that lays out rules for a gradual adoption of complete streets.

The complete streets philosophy calls for features that improve roads like wider sidewalks, narrower lanes, and moving buildings closer to a road’s edge, according to Washington state-based Transportation expert, Dan Burden, who was in town for a presentation to Winter Park City Commissioners. Orlando is the third Central Florida city to adopt such a plan.

Right now, crossing a street in Winter Park legally, even to get to a bus stop could mean walking as far as 20 minutes to find the next official crosswalk. For a more detailed picture of pedestrian challenges and complete street initiatives in Winter Park, read the full story on WMFE.

Orlando, hasn't adopted complete streets planning models, but the city recently enacted tougher rules targeting gas stations near Orlando International Airport. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was concerned that two gas stations close to OIA were regularly charging about $2 higher than the average price for gas with little signage about the price. Unwary customers, usually tourists, often fill up without seeing the price as they head to return their rental cars and end up stuck with an inflated bill. That leaves a bad memory on the way out of town, harming the Orlando tourist brand.

Since Orlando can't regulate the price of gas, it passed an ordinance requiring the stations to post a sign with the price visible from the street or face a fine of $250 a day. As of Wednesday afternoon there were still no signs posted though.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Montreal Bike Share In Debt; Amtrak to Senate: Gateway Tunnel "Critical" for Region

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Senate Democrats want the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the oil industry is fixing gas prices. (Marketplace). Meanwhile, their proposal to strip oil companies of tax breaks failed in the Senate yesterday (New York Times).

Politico writes: "Republicans have a messaging problem on gas prices. More Americans actually believe in UFOs and ghosts than blame President Barack Obama for causing their pain at the pump."

Montreal's Bixi bike share program, losing money and in debt, needs financial backing from the city. (The Globe and Mail)

Auditions for NYC's "Music Under New York" program were held yesterday; WNYC stopped by to take pictures -- and audio -- of the would-be subway performers. Take a listen!

CNN Money profiles the president of Alta Bike Share, the company behind the bike share programs in Boston and DC.

Workers move closer to their jobs, take transit, buy less, as a result of gas prices:  (New York Times)

Loudoun County officials are exploring what would happen if they withdrew funding for the Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport. (Washington Post)

The Congressional Budget Office floated a mileage tax at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on “Financing 21st Century Infrastructure.” (The Hill)

Meanwhile, at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing for the Federal Railroad Administration's budget request, Amtrak president Joseph Boardman said the Gateway Tunnel is "critical" to high-speed rail service. He added:  "I think we're out of capacity in the Northeast Corridor...we have no place to put the New Jersey Transit trains that come into Penn Station." (Video below via Senator Lautenberg, YouTube)

The Freedom Rides turn 50 this year, and two original freedom riders talk will about that activism on today's Brian Lehrer Show. (WNYC)

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- high fuel prices squeeze Montana agencies (link)

-- DC wants to impose fees on intercity bus industry (link)

-- DC's mayor will announce new DDOT head today (link)

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Transportation Nation

High Fuel Prices Squeeze Montana State Agencies

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

(Billings-Jackie Yamanaka, YPR) – State agencies in Montana that depend on vehicles are feeling the pinch of higher fuel prices. But agency officials say, for now, they are able to cover the higher costs even with their austere budgets.

Colonel Mike Tooley is chief of the Montana Highway Patrol. He says each day there are about 200 troopers out on the state’s roads and highways everyday. They are responsible for the bulk of the agency’s travel expenses at nearly 6 million miles a year.

“That’s where our work is done,” he says. “We need to be out on the highways to be visible and be available for the public, Tooley adds. “So if we have to make adjustments in other areas we’ll do that before we cut the amount of driving that the troopers do.”

Montana’s fuel prices lag behind the national average of $3.93/gallon. According to Gasbuddy.com, the average price of a gallon of gas in Montana Monday was $3.77. While that’s nearly 80-cent/gallon higher than a year ago it’s still below 2008 when gasoline topped $4/gallon.

Tooley says the MHP took a number of steps. This includes:  replacing its fleet of Ford Crown Victorias with Chevrolets orDodges. He says those vehicles are smaller and have new technology to deliver better fuel economy.

He hopes gas prices decline because the agency currently is down 20 troopers. Recruitment is taking place for those positions now.

The 2011 Montana Legislature also authorized MHP to hire 8 additional officers beginning July 1, 2011. Governor Brian Schweitzer signed the state’s main budget bill into law last week.

Tooley hopes to fill all of those vacancies and hopes fuel prices go down so he can do that.

“If this turns out that this is the new normal of above $3.50/gallon for gasoline then that’s when we have to take a look and prioritize on what we’re going to do without,”  Tooley says.

Another agency that depends on employees on the road is the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Its wardens are out patrolling on land and water.

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Transportation Nation

Why Gas Prices Stay High at the Pump Even When Oil Drops

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

(photo courtesy of Senator Boxer/Flickr)

(Houston -- Laurie Johnson, KUHF News) Oil prices are up again after taking a plunge last week -- which means gasoline prices are likely to fluctuate this week. After spiking up rapidly, prices had just started to slowly come down again in response to last week's drop in crude oil prices. But the relief may be short-lived. Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, said gasoline retailers are caught when prices rise.

"The retailer who has to purchase his gasoline at the truck rack, sees an immediate impact in the market price and is passing that on to the consumer," he said. "As prices fall, the independent business man sometimes is stuck with some high-priced gasoline and is reluctant to reduce his price immediately as the market goes down and he wants to liquidate his inventory first."

And Lipow adds there's another problem driving up prices: low supply. "Since the beginning of the year, crude oil inventories have risen about nine percent, but on the other hand gasoline inventories since the middle of February have declined 15 percent," he explained. "So what we have is a problem of refineries, through a combination of scheduled and unscheduled outages, are unable to take the crude oil and produce gasoline and diesel fuel for the consumer."

And the gasoline futures market is likely to fluctuate this week as investors watch the Mississippi floodwaters edge closer to Louisiana's oil refineries.

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Transportation Nation

NEWS ANALYSIS: Obama Connects the Dots: from bin Laden to Hybrid Transmissions

Friday, May 06, 2011

President Obama Announces Death of Osama bin Laden (White House Photo)

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  If anyone doesn't quite see the links between international terrorism and more fuel-efficient transportation, the President is making it for them. He caps the week that begin Sunday night with a dramatic White House announcement that Osama bin Laden had been found and shot dead -- at a hybrid transmission plan in Indiana (streaming here, full text here).

Now, if you were a fan of the West Wing tv show, as I was, you know a President's day can have all kinds of randomly juxtaposed events (school children perform at the White House, Secretary of State comes by for a meeting, there's a dinner with broccoli producers), mostly a function of scheduling.

But in a week where the White House is obviously paying close attention to optics -- from the purposeful stride down to the podium in the East Wing Sunday night to a somber wreath-laying at Ground Zero to a photograph of the buzz-cut 10-year old Christopher Cannizzaro of Staten Island, N.Y, whose firefighter father died on 9/11, that looks like it walked right off a Norman  Rockwell print -- it's hard to just chalk up the Indy visit as random.

As the pool report just put it, "on our way to Allison transmission, we came across a gas station displaying $4.17 a gallon. Another down the road advertised $4.14.
A few dozen gawkers dotted the streets, some of them waving US flags and others signs "I stand with planned parenthood".  Factory in sight at 11:40.

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WNYC News

Financial 411: Government Sues Deutsche Bank

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The federal government is suing Deutsche Bank, for allegedly lying to the government so it would insure risky mortgages. We'll talk about the on-going investigations into mortgage lending practices.

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Transportation Nation

GOP: Energy Votes to Proceed Amid Obama's Big Moment

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

$4-a-gallon gas in Soho (photo by Kate Hinds)

(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) The killing of Osama bin Laden has changed a lot in the world. But it won't change GOP plans to take aim at the president and his energy policy later this week.

That's because House leaders plan to go ahead with a series of votes designed to place blame on President Obama for high gas prices.

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