Commuters find ways to ease pain at pumps
By LPR Staff
As gas prices continue to climb by the day, some Lockhart commuters are finding innovative ways to keep money in their pockets and gas in their tanks.
On Wednesday morning, unleaded gasoline stood at a record high of $3.972 per gallon in the Austin-San Marcos area, while diesel fuel was priced at a whopping $4.761 per ga
llon, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report (www.fuelgaugereport.com). While the pain of increasing gas prices has impacted most Lockhart resident on some level, many are searching for ways to minimize the damage.
“I started leaving later to work and coming home later in the evening,” said Nefty Gonzales, a visual communications specialist with the Office of the Attorney General. “It’s easier for me to avoid the traffic that way, and I’m lucky that in my job, I have the flexibility to do that.”
Gonzales said he had also considered carpooling, but the basic function of his job will not allow him to do so.
“Because I have to travel so much, I can’t really commit to any kind of ride share or carpool,” he said. “But as I drive back and forth to Austin, I see a lot of the same cars, and now those cars have two or three heads in them, instead of just one.”
Gonzales moved to Lockhart around 18 months ago, and though he admits the price of gas has taken a bite out of his budget, he said he has not considered moving to be closer to work.
“I love it here, and I don’t think it would be worth it for me to move closer to town,” he said. “I would probably use about the same amount of gas sitting in traffic in Austin as I do driving on the highway.”
According to Patrick Davis of Harrison Partners real estate, most area residents seem to share Gonzales’ view.
“Our business hasn’t slowed down since the economy started to downturn,” he said. “And we have plenty of buyers looking in this area. What we don’t have, actually, are a lot of listings.”
Davis said the lack of sellers indicates to him that people are not trying to give up their rural lives to save on gas.
Gonzales also suggested he is not interested in trading in his vehicle, a Toyota FJ Cruiser.
“I always have to haul equipment with my job, and I never know when I’ll have to travel somewhere else in the state,” he said. “And really, my mileage on the highway is not THAT bad…”
Michael Marr, another Caldwell County resident, opted to park his sport utility vehicle in honor of riding his motorcycle to work in Austin each day.
“I used to ride one of the bikes to work just when I felt like it,” he said Tuesday. “Now I do it every day because my bikes get between 30 and 40 miles per gallon, and my truck only gets 12.”
Clint Browning with the Lockhart Fire Department said he took the same approach, and that he has found his gasoline bill decreasing this month.
Motorcycles, though, present other dangers, which Marr reminded both drivers and riders to be aware of.
“I see two things on a regular basis that car drivers do not do,” Marr said. “They do not look when changing lanes or just pull out into traffic,” he said. “And they tailgate, or don’t slow down when I’m trying to turn, and pass me in my lane.”
Both driving patterns have caused fatal injuries to motorcycle riders in Central Texas in recent weeks.
Gonzales and Marr both suggested they are taking care to think about their errands, and run more than one errand whenever they have the chance.
For information on how the lulling economy is affecting Lockhart industry, check next week’s Post-Register.