Page 3.14

…reads the headline of this article from the The Times of London.

Pump prices have risen by one third over the past year and in some parts of the US have topped $3 (£1.68) a gallon. Among the ultra-rich of Beverly Hills, the cost of fuel has even slipped over the $4 mark.

This is, of course, still far less than the equivalent of about $8 being paid by British motorists, but such comparisons hold little sway in the US where, for many, the unfettered freedom of the individual to drive across wide-open spaces is almost part of the Constitution. By contrast, public transport has, historically at least, been regarded as un-American.


  1. #1 Doran
    April 24, 2006

    In the 20th century there was a concerted effort by auto/truck manufacturers and the oil industry to destroy public transportation in this country. A good example is the demolition of electric rail systems in the west in favor of diesel busses. But to generalize public transportation as historically Un-American is rather far fetched. Americans have held up the cowboy and the wagon settler as icons of its expansion, but does that correlate to our current obsessiveness over not carpooling?

    I think The Times happens to expounding far to broadly on American individualism. Oh well, they have a right to scoff at US consumers crying bloody murder over prices between 1/2 and 1/3 of those in Europe.

  2. #2 ChristopherMims@Seed
    April 24, 2006

    I agree that the Times is a bit over the top, but really, it’s hard to blame them – we’ve spent a generation building a dependency on cheap gas, and if I’m not mistaken, the party is very nearly over. I suppose you’re attacking their saying that our lack of mass transit derives from our independent streak, though. That I’ll buy – ever since someone labeled Bush the cowboy president there’s been a tendency in the foreign press to charicature the whole country that way…

  3. #3 Michael Poole
    April 24, 2006

    Doran, can you elaborate on how replacing electric rail systems with diesel busses destroyed public transportation? Described in the words you used, it sounds like substituting one form of public transportation for another.

    Europe’s sociopolitical structure is rather different than North America’s. According to Wikipedia, the USA’s land area is about 93% of Europe’s, but has only 42% of the population. Both in the US and Europe, the feasibility (in economic and practical terms) of public transportation has much more to do with population density than national character, gas prices, or the tax structure of fossil fuels.

    If you consider Canada — where population density is 11% of the US’s, gas prices are similar (2.99-4.13 USD/gal), people are complaining about gas prices, and public transportation is no more popular than in the US — then the numbers for North America are more exaggerated and The Times seems to be singling out the US for cheap political points.

  4. #4 Branedy
    April 25, 2006

    Current oil prices in Ireland are already at 5.22$ per U.S. Gallon. or 1.12 Euro per Liter and going up. (do the math yourself) Cheap oil has caused this crisis, you have SUV’s, I have a car that averages almost 40 miles to the gallon. (and its fun to drive)

  5. #5 Branedy
    July 23, 2006

    Irish gas is now at 5.85 per gallon (1.22 Euro per Liter)

  6. #6 Flots Masriach
    September 19, 2006

    Are you sure 23357 about this?!?