Saturday, 7 June 2008

The positive side of high petrol prices

With oil setting record highs on a regular basis, the hip-pocket pain of filling up at the bowser is set to increase. However, increased fuel costs do have a positive side. Public transport use (trains and buses) has gone up around 8% in the past year in Sydney, reflecting the shift away from cars for commuting to work. The reduction in peak hour traffic would be even higher than this, as some people are car pooling rather than using public transport, and there would be some reduction in travel as people focus more on finding work closer to home.

Although I've seen the cost to fill up increase from around $25 to $45 in the past couple of years, during this same period the peak hour traffic has improved remarkably. The typical trip to work in the morning used to take 45-55 minutes, while trips during school holiday periods improved to around 30 minutes. This year I've noticed that the daily commute is only taking around 30 minutes, even during school terms. So, although I'm paying an extra $20 a week on petrol costs, I'm saving around 2.5 hours travel time each week. Unfortunately there is a lower limit to how long the trip to work will take - the distance and the speed limits mean it could never get much less than 30 minutes even with less traffic. So, any further petrol price hikes are not going to be of much personal benefit.

However, there will still be the global benefit of increased fuel costs reducing demand for oil. This will both help to cap further increases in the price of oil, and slow the rate of increase in greenhouse gases.

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2 comments:

Ultra High Net Worth said...

I'm not sure what part of the city you live in, but where I am (and I'm close to the CBD), not only has the traffic been getting worse over the last year or two, but the buses have failed completly - partly due to higher petrol costs and partly due to the bueses being moved to more marginal seats. I don't often post political messages, its just that I am now finding that some days its quicker to walk, rather than get the bus! Maybe I'll go back to driving. :)

Daltica said...

Public transport use (trains and buses) has gone up around 8% in the past year in Sydney, reflecting the shift away from cars for commuting to work.

This is not be a good thing either. The Sydney transport system is a big shocker too. We'll end up being crammed like sardines on late and unreliable trains.