Wednesday, May 28, 2008

At the bowser

As I drive to and from work on certain days of the week, battling traffic congestion and impatient motorists, amongst other things I ponder the madness of our car-based lifestyle, and the futility of urban planning policies that do little to encourage public transport usage. Petrol prices seem to be increasing all the time. As a solution to ease the financial burden this is placing on the budgets of working families, our federal government is planning to introduce a national Fuelwatch scheme, based on one already operating in Western Australia.

Under this scheme, petrol retailers would be required to give advance notice to the public of changes in petrol prices. I'm no expert on economics, but it is debateable whether this scheme will actually work, and may actually increase prices by forcing smaller independent retailers out of business, reducing competition. The canny motorist can already use MotorMouth and the RACV to find cheaper petrol prices, so I'd question whether or not Fuelwatch is really necessary.

In any event, if current trends continue, other more radical solutions will be needed. This is unsustainable, and in the longer term, some of us, myself included, may need to make some major lifestyle changes to reduce our car usage. One hates to be pessimistic, but unless other renewable fuel sources are no longer withheld from the marketplace, and hybrid vehicles find mass market acceptance, I wonder if it will get to the stage where car ownership becomes unaffordable for those on average incomes.


Lance said...

Looks like you need to get a motorbike. Don't have to worry about congestion (get to work quicker and save fuel that way, as well as being much more fuel efficient.

Ross McPhee said...

I'd rather get a Segway, one of those BMW C1 motor scooters, or maybe even a Smart ForTwo.

James Garth said...

People are really hurting out there. My workmates are paying between $70 and $110 worth of petrol on average per week to drive to the city from the far-flung fringes. Using a combination of the early bird trains and walking to and from work, I've managed to shave mine down to $23 per week. :)

Ross McPhee said...

I feel sorry for those with mortgages and families to support. As a single man and a renter, it puts things into perspective.

UltraViolet said...

Has Fuelwatch had any obvious effects yet? We've had it in WA for a while, so I don't know if changed anything here. Most places listed seemed to charge the same anyway, but it's good to be able to look a day ahead.

I have ditched the car and started riding a bicycle, and am saving many $$$s, especially since petrol here is 185.5c.