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The Rising Price of Gas Is the Talk of the Nation

Gas prices. You may have heard they're on an upward trajectory. In today's Streetsblog Network Roundup, we look at the wide-ranging implications of fuel pump pain from Rhode Island to Hawaii:

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The Vulnerabilities of Oil Dependence: Richard Layman at Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space reports that Newport, Rhode Island is offering "gas rebates" to help lure budget-conscious tourists. Meanwhile, observers wonder if Las Vegas's economy will take a hit as a result of increased travel costs.

Layman likens the U.S.'s disastrous over-reliance on fossil fuels to Ireland's one-time dependency on the potato crop. The refusal of some political leaders to embrace transportation reform, he says, reflects an "unwillingness to build a society and economy that is resilient and robust as opposed to one that is completely dependent on parameters concerning the access to and demand for oil."

Metro Atlanta Getting Serious About Transit: High gas prices, as well as legendary congestion, finally seem to be causing metro Atlanta to move towards more robust transit, even in distant suburban quarters, reports Decatur Metro. The Atlanta Regional Transportation Commission has given transit a clear priority in its plan for revenues from a regional transportation sales tax. The commission wants to spend $13 billion on transit and $8.5 billion on roads.

While the recommendation is in no way binding, Decatur Metro says it shows that even in formerly exurban counties, the need for an alternative to the current gridlock has become too strong to ignore. "[Outlying counties'] populations have soared and traffic has gotten appreciably worse as a result. And as is so often the case – boring as it may be – need tends to trump ideology most days of the week."

High Gas Prices Leading to Mode Shift: In Hawaii, where the average price of gas leads the nation at $4.48 per gallon, there's evidence that people are seeking alternatives to the single occupancy vehicle. Say Yes to the Honolulu Rail System writes that although gas prices are still rising, they haven't been increasing at the same clip. Could it be because more people are choosing to carpool and take transit, easing demand? The blog writes: "The local media have started reporting what Yes2Rail has been noting for the past month – that high gas prices push drivers to become transit and carpool riders. According to Oahu Transit Services, which operates TheBus, bus pass sales are increasing." In eight years, when Honolulu's 20-mile rail transit system is complete, local residents won't be held hostage so much by fluctuations in gas prices.

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