Hey Triangle, we’re number one! Unfortunately, it’s not a good thing. We’ve been given the sad honor of most gas guzzling metropolitan area in America by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a Chicago-based think tank that studies the true cost of living and working in cities across the country.
It’s the relative convenience of our fair area that does us all in. Because Triangle cities and towns are close together, motorists think nothing of driving from one to the other, racking up mileage in the process. And in terms of impact, it’s not only how high gas prices are but how far you drive that determines how much an area is hurt by rising costs.
In addition to us, two other NC metro areas ended up on the list— the Triad and Charlotte. While density has a lot to do with our negative rank, it did my Go Triangle-loving heart good to see our efforts haven’t been for naught. According to this NC-centric blog post from CNT, it could have been a lot worse. Comparing a more transit accessible area like Five Points in Raleigh with less-served Zebulon shows significant savings in average household transportation costs.
Bruce Siceloff’s Road Worrier column provides insights on the study from CNT’s chief research scientist, Peter Haas. One especially striking point is that commuting accounts for about 30% of trips taken in our cars. 70% of the time we’re driving to shop, pick up the kids, or running errands. On a personal note, last weekend I drove my fiancé from our house in Durham to his favorite barbershop in Raleigh—45 miles round trip. After getting home I decided to see how hard it would be take the bus. It turns out, we’re just 3 buses away from a fantastic haircut. Next time he’s due for a trim, we’re taking the bus.