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I've just tried burning new kinds of fuel to get to work

May 04, 2008|By TONY MULIERI

When the price of gas hit $3.60 per gallon, I decided I would take a stand.

A few weeks earlier, when the price of gas was steadily climbing, I had stopped at the County Commuter office on West Washington Street to get a bus schedule.

I live by the airport and I asked if there was a bus that came out by my neck of the woods.

The woman was very helpful. She showed me what time I would have to be out on Pennsylvania Avenue in the morning to get to work on time and where I would have to be after work to get home.

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Gas was about $3.40 per gallon at the time and it was starting to get to me, although I didn't really think I would resort to the bus.

When it hit $3.60 and I heard it would get even higher, I was out on Pennsylvania Avenue the next morning, waiting for the bus by the Colonial Restaurant.

It costs $1.25 to get to work and another $1.25 to get home, so I'm not sure I'm saving a lot, but it is the principle of the thing. I live about 12 minutes from my job, if I hit all of the lights right, so I probably don't even use a gallon a day to get to and from work. But still.

I was absolutely giddy that first day I took the bus. I felt like I was beating the system, sticking it to the man, whomever that is. Plus, I was getting some exercise since I had to hoof it in to The Herald-Mail Co. from the transfer point on West Washington Street near the police department, about four blocks away.

I've ridden the bus a few more times since that first time. I've decided I'm going to ride the bus a couple of times a week while the price of gas is soaring. I might even attempt to ride my bike to work on nice days, although it's mostly uphill on the way home. It's not a big hill, but a gradual one, the kind that makes your thighs burn if you're 58.

I've weighed the pros and cons of riding the bus.

On the pro side, I'm taking my stand, saving wear and tear on my car and getting some much needed exercise.

On the negative side, I've found you lose your freedom a bit. When I'm at work, I can't just jump in my car on a whim and run to McDonald's, but that is probably also a good thing.

Also, God forbid, if I had an emergency, I might be wishing I had driven to work. I'm sure one of my co-workers would get me where I have to go in a crunch, but you lose some freedom without wheels.

The other thing is the bus doesn't take a direct route. It detours through Colonial Heights on the way to work and through Colonial Heights and Maugansville on the way home, so it takes longer than 12 minutes one way.

Like most Americans, I enjoy driving and it's a sacrifice to give it up.

But sometimes, you have to go with your gut feeling and do something to beat the system.

I'm not one to stand on my soapbox, participate in a boycott or even attend a rally, but this is a quiet way I can protest the high price of gas and reduce my carbon footprint, whatever that means.

It's not that hard to ride the bus, and I can do it a few days a week to make a point.

I've got to run. The bus is coming.

Tony Mulieri is community editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7647, or by e-mail at tonym@herald-mail.com.

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