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Driving: If the price of gasoline in US America rose to $10 per gallon, it would cost $225 to fill the tank of a Ford Explorer. Driving to work 10 miles and back would cost about $13 per day. If one worked an average of 230 days per year, yearly work transportation costs would near $3,000. Being that the average American drives a total of 15,000 miles per year, the money spent on fuel for the SUV would rise to a total of about $8,800 per year. It is estimated that at this rate, the gas bill for the average family would rise from 16 percent of its retail spending to 40 percent.
Air Travel: There are about 11 million commercial flights flown domestically and internationally to and from the USA each year. The planes get an average of about 0.2 miles per gallon of jet fuel at a wholesale cost of just over $1 per gallon. Averaging about 800 miles per flight, all US commercial airlines combined spend about $44 billion per year on fuel alone. If the hypothetical price increase were to proportionally affect jet fuel, commercial airlines would be forced to spend about $140 billion on fuel each year. Historically, fuel expenses account for about 15 percent of airline operation costs. Under the hypothetical price increase, fuel costs would account for 40 percent of operation costs driving the price of air tickets up at least $50 for every $100 in fares. And even with such a price increase, it is predicted that over 1 half of all American airplanes would be grounded as they’d be too costly to fly.
Electricity: As increasing fuel costs push people towards hybrid and electric cars, the demands for electricity would increase at least 2-fold. At current capacity, the US energy grid only supports enough electricity to power 84 percent of the country’s automobiles – that is if all gasoline-powered cars were traded in for hybrids. With over 26 percent of the world’s known coal reserves residing in the USA, and with no major investments in a sustainable energy grid, agencies would have no choice but to drastically increase coal-fired electricity production.
Food: Eighty years ago, it was rare that American foods ever travelled more than 100 miles from the farm to the consumer. Now it is estimated that the average American meal travels 1500 miles to get from the farm to the plate. Transportation alone is responsible for 8.5 percent of food costs. With gasoline costing $10 per gallon, transportation would account for about 26.5 percent of non-local food costs, and prices would rise more than 25 cents on the dollar. This would result in the resurgence of local, small-scale food production to eliminate the 26.5 percent cost of food transportation.
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If the hypothetical price increase was to come in the form of government taxes at the pumps, even with a 50% drop in consumption by American drivers, then in theory the government could save over $1 trillion per year that could be reinvested in a sustainable transportation infrastructure without increasing the costs of air travel.
China, with over 78,000 kilometers of railroad track, carries 25 percent of the world’s total railway workload. It is the primary mode of long distance transportation with over 1.4 billion tickets sold each year at about 1 third the cost of air travel. With a new investment of $292 billion, China plans to extend its railway coverage from 78,000 kilometers to 120,000 kilometers by 2020.
By contrast, Americans only get about 0.56 percent of their total transportation miles by rail. Air travel accounts for 10.61 percent while highway driving accounts for 88.79 percent.
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Mouawad, Jad. Lessons on How to Guzzle Less Gas, From Europe and Japan. The New York Times. April, 2009.
Schoen, John W. What Does Gasoline Cost in Other Countries? MSNBC. April, 2006.
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2007 Gasoline Consumption. American Fuels. March 8, 2008.
Boehmer, Jay. 2009 Business Travel Survey: U.S. Airlines Swap Fuel Prices for Demand Crisis. Business Travel News. June 1, 2009.
Summary 2008 Traffic Data for U.S. and Foreign Airlines: Total Passengers Down 3.5 Percent From 2007. Rita Bureau of Transportation. April 23, 2009.
Rail Transport in the People’s Republic of China. Wikipedia. July, 2009
Transportation in the United States. Wikipedia. July, 2009.