Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=184225
Story Retrieval Date: 6/19/2013 2:26:12 PM CST
While rising gas prices don't faze some Chicago area residents, others are adjusting their daily habits to minimize or compensate for the additional cost.
In a random survey near Congress Parkway and LaSalle Street, several people said their daily commute has switched from driving to public transportation.
Corey Castillo of Palos Heights said she spent $100 in two days to commute to and from Chicago and run errands around her neighborhood. With that experience, she now avoids filling her tank as much as possible.
“Once gas probably reached about $3.60, I pretty much take the train every opportunity I can,” Castillo said.
Oil price has been trading around $108 per barrel since Friday, their highest levels since September 2008. The Department of Energy, however, reported a 2 million barrel rise in U.S. oil inventories Wednesday, despite a fear of short supplies due to the unrest in Libya and the Middle East.
Consumer advocates have long argued that gas stations and oil companies quickly increase prices in response to international turmoil or natural disasters, but are reluctant to decrease prices when headlines are positive and oil prices drop.
Christopher Steiner, Chicago journalist who authored a best seller called “$20 Per Gallon” in 2009, contends that high gas prices actually will make the world a simpler, safer and healthier place to live. But in the short term, consumers will feel the pain.
South Side resident Daniel Braden said he splits his week between driving and taking the bus to work, sometimes putting in as little as $5 worth at the gas station. He said his neighbors, who own two cars, have switched over to using the Chicago Transit Authority because they can’t afford to spend money on gas at recent prices.
Julius Johnson of Gary, Ind., said that since gas prices hit $4 a gallon, he works from his home office more often and said some of his neighbors now take the Metra South Shore train to Chicago instead of driving to work each day.
Johnson, who used to go to the health club daily, now goes every other day to save money for groceries. He also said he sees friends across town less often because of high gas prices.
“It’s getting to the point where if you don’t have to go out, you don’t go out,” Johnson said.
Not all Chicago area residents are changing their daily routines and driving habits, mostly because they don’t have to.
Fritz Eifrig lives downtown and said he doesn’t worry about gas prices because of his short commute on the CTA. Eifrig travels out of town for leisure every couple of weeks and said those are the only times he pays attention to gas prices.
Chicagoan Tim Alamillo drives a company car during the week, so he doesn’t have to pay for gas but said prices are negatively affecting the law firm he works for.
DePaul University professor Robert Cronberg drives in from the suburbs everyday and said that even if his employer didn’t pay for his gas, he would still pay the high price to be able to use his car for the sake of convenience.
“We’ve been at the $4.50 a gallon price before, and that didn’t affect people’s consumption,” Cronberg said. “We’re a car culture, and it’s hard to break that habit.”