Cut back at the pump

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 27, 2006

Alabamians are beginning to feel the sting of increased prices at the pump.

For the past couple of summers, we’ve dealt with paying more, yet no one really changed their driving habits that much.

I’ve noticed a difference this time around.

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A co-worker got rid of her SUV and purchased a vehicle that gets better gas mileage.

Another co-worker asked where to find a dealer who sells hybrid vehicles.

A friend has switched vehicles with her husband, so that the one who drives the most miles to work, drives the vehicle that is most fuel-efficient.

There are people with the mentality that the federal government should be responsible for keeping gas prices low.

Maybe there are some things the federal government can do, but look what happened after Hurricane Katrina. We can’t rely on the federal government to fix everything – it can’t happen. It won’t happen.

The federal government does not respond to the individual needs of its citizens, not even when there is a collective need.

Why do we even expect the federal government to intervene when we are not willing to do anything ourselves?

We expect it because the federal government has become so large. But large does not mean efficient.

A little side-note here: What has happened to our government is much like what happened to Dr. Frankenstein – he created a monster.

He may not have meant any harm. It seemed like a good idea. Yet, the monster was very quickly out of his control, unable to help anyone – even himself – and destroyed his creator.

Just a thought.

But, back to gas prices.

The government is not going to correct the problem. That means it’s up to us.

So, what can we do?

Well, the obvious answer is to stop buying gas. At least stop buying as much of it. If the big oil companies begin to feel the pinch, they’ll drop the prices. Then the smaller oil companies will have to follow suit.

To buy less gas, more people will have to walk, ride bicycles, car pool or cancel trips they normally make to Birmingham, Tuscaloosa or Montgomery.

Think about purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles such as hybrids or high-mileage cars. The truth is that with gas at $3 a gallon, car dealers should be selling those Smart Cars that look like golf carts on steroids. Smart Cars should be all over the streets of cities and towns across the country, including Selma.

In addition, local government should fast-forward plans for public transportation.

There are natural gas and even electric buses that could be buzzing up and down Dallas Avenue and Broad Street.

This is certainly not my area of expertise, but I don’t think it would take a rocket scientist to figure out how to run an efficient, affordable public transportation system in a city the size of Selma.

It’s like Key West, Fla. You can practically walk from one side to the other.

I’m going to try to do my part to cut back, walk to town as much as possible and buy less oil. If we all do a little, it could make a big difference.

TAMMY LEYTHAM is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.