Summertime driving in New York is a real challenge with car-clogged highways and construction detours. The weekends are particularly troublesome when people head out to barbecues, family events, and road trips to see other states. A lot of gasoline is consumed, especially due to so many people driving SUVs these days.
When I was growing up in New York, our family didn’t really go on “road trips.” Dad bought his first car (a gray Cadillac Eldorado) when I was about 10 years old. Gasoline was expensive and rides in the car weren’t to be wasted.
This was especially noticeable during the oil crisis of 1973, when I remember waiting in long lines at the gas station. You could gas up only on even or odd days — depending on your license plate number. Even if you had the right day, if a station wasn’t flying a green flag, they didn’t have gas! With the shortage so evident, you really had to consider beforehand if you wanted to use precious gasoline for any trip.
So, for my family, a lot of our fun was just a bus or train ride away. We could easily access Rockaway Playland Amusement Park, the observation deck of Empire State Building in New York City, and Rockaway Beach by public transportation. And we could walk to Highland Park and Hale Bowling Alley for summertime fun. No car needed!
We could even visit other states easily by bus or train. We visited Pennsylvania Dutch Country on a Greyhound bus one summer. That trip brings back good memories!
I wonder what would happen if the supply of fuel was interrupted during the summer, like what happened during the oil crisis of the 1970s. Or, more recently, when Superstorm Sandy hit New York and we had to use an app to find out which stations had gas. I remember getting to the station at 4:00 a.m. and waiting in a long line — only to be told at the end of an hour that there was no gasoline left.
How would our fuel consumption and driving habits change if gas was not readily available this summer? Could we use public transportation to get to our vacation destinations? I think that it is totally worth investigating. Or, could we skip the road trip and explore local experiences? We might really enjoy not getting behind the wheel!
About the Author
Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.