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Gas Price Social Networking
March 16, 2004 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Gas prices are out of control and will continue to rise [NY Times]. However, I was looking at Matt H's Social Software ideas and decided check out one that already exists - gas prices. GasPriceWatch.com is a site that hosts gasoline prices from around the country. But the problem is, despite it's request for "non-commercial" use of the data, it relies on users to enter that information.

I'm about to have my first child so I've been looking at ways to save money -I figured finding the cheapest place to get gas would be a great way to start but quickly found that my price entries were the only ones within a 10 mile radius of my house. Spread the word.
posted by bkdelong (30 comments total)


 
bkdelong : I totally sympathize. I have our first kid on the way and all of the other stuff that's going on in this country makes me just cringe for the world I'll be bringing him/her into--I've been depressed all day reading the news.

It's really sad and scary to see the dollar plumiting, gas prices rising, deficit skyrocketing, unemployment increasing, and more and more crooked politicians.

I'm sure it's happened to every generation before, and maybe this is just an awakening to me, but I've never felt so hopeless about the future of this country.
posted by psychotic_venom at 12:08 PM on March 16, 2004


I'd love to be able to take an XML version of that database and run queries against it. If enough people tracked gas prices in a particular area, one would be able to have a rapidly-changing RSS feed that would show you price fluxtuations several times a day.

I'm guessing most people in metro areas take public transportation, but for those that don't - it certainly gives a better option to save on money during a time when things aren't the greatest. I've tried to do my part to move away from fossil fuels by getting a more fuel efficient car. The next step is to get a hybrid and some day, fuel cell.

Here's some prices for Boston, San Francisco, Denver, St. Louis, Dallas, Tallahassee, and DC.
posted by bkdelong at 12:14 PM on March 16, 2004


I've checked on gas prices from GasBuddy and they're fairly well-updated by volunteers, just like GasPriceWatch. Even in this relatively small city of 90K, almost all the gas stations in town are entered and kept up-to-date (and, interestingly enough, all have the same price).
posted by zsazsa at 12:23 PM on March 16, 2004


Gas prices are not at an all time high... when adjusted for inflation.
posted by internal at 12:29 PM on March 16, 2004


Gas prices are most certainly **not** out of control. Adjusted for inflation, the price of gas has been on a relatively steady decline since the invention of the automobile.

Take a moment to consider what gas costs relative to bottled water, per gallon. Then consider how much you're really paying in taxes at the pump.

It's amazing that gas is as cheap as it is.
posted by pjdoland at 12:29 PM on March 16, 2004


Is it worth tracking gas prices online? Let's say I find gas that is 10 cents cheaper per gallon and I have a 16 gallon tank in my car. I would save a maximum of $1.60 per time I filled up, while paying with my own time. I would probably save far more money if I spent my energy thinking about where I do my grocery shopping.
posted by Triplanetary at 12:34 PM on March 16, 2004


Here's my gas money saving idea (which I'll soon be implementing):

Buy a large gas can. Fill it. While prices are high, drive your car on empty until it stops. Fill the car from the gas can. Buy $5 at the next gas station to keep you going for a bit (probably fill the can too).

Keep doing that until prices are "good". Then you can take full advantage and fill 'er up completely

The only way prices will come down is if consumers refuse to give their complete business to gas stations while prices are high.

(Oh, BTW: All the environmentalists that never believed me that oil will never run out: NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH. I was right, you were wrong. Economics really *DOES* work to ensure everything will always be available.)
posted by shepd at 12:36 PM on March 16, 2004


I'm sure it's happened to every generation before, and maybe this is just an awakening to me, but I've never felt so hopeless about the future of this country.

The more I think about, the more I'm coming to believe that "social networking" and community-building are what is going to bring our and the next generations closer together. I recently checked out a new blog of friend and co-author, Simon St. Laurent about the town he lives in and was incredibly impressed with the depth of information contained within.

Conventional communities are gone - the rural neighborhood I grew up with where we played over friends houses and went to gatherings has been twisted into a new form by families with both parents working...in some cases, odd hours.

So PTAs and teachers resort to email for interacting and contacting parents until parent-teacher meetings are setup. Neighborhood organizations move to an email list with only occasional meetings.

I hear a lot these days that "Web services and the Semantic Web are the future" - and too many people think that means in business......I think we need to look at how it can benefit societal communities as well.
posted by bkdelong at 12:37 PM on March 16, 2004


I would probably save far more money if I spent my energy thinking about where I do my grocery shopping.

Doing that too. I already get emailed the circulars for my local grocery stores on Fridays and am always looking for coupons ;)
posted by bkdelong at 12:46 PM on March 16, 2004


One caveat to the debunking above: In the 1950s, "our parents" (of the typical NR reader, I'm guessing?) didn't have to use as much gasoline. Well, great, they weren't required to drive almost everywhere they needed to go either. Gas stations were also full service, etc. "The 1981 recession/energy crunch years were worse" also doesn't sound like such a great defense to me.

In any case, I think what scares people here is not only the larger numbers (and large numbers make plenty of us go wowie, despite the irrationality involved), but how rapid the increases seem to have been and how many authorities say the increases are likely to keep coming. And gas prices, they say, may even hit $3 in some locations by year's end. I'm certainly no economist (and wouldn't trust any study by itself), but I think at some point you could have a siginficant shock to the system here.
posted by raysmj at 12:49 PM on March 16, 2004


From the linked article: On a per-mile basis, adjusted for inflation, gasoline costs about half of what it did in the early 1980's, according to the Energy Information Administration. Then again, because gasoline is cheaper in the United States, rising crude oil prices or tight refinery capacity tend to produce relatively bigger price swings.
posted by raysmj at 12:54 PM on March 16, 2004


Spread the word.

Fix the website so that I can sign up without getting Microsoft OLE errors and maybe I might find it useful, otherwise "enh..."
posted by Qubit at 1:18 PM on March 16, 2004


I'm sorry but what exactly does the price of bottled water have to do with the price of gasoline? Is there some point to this except to say well product x is cheaper than product y?
posted by filchyboy at 1:20 PM on March 16, 2004


I'm about to have my first child so I've been looking at ways to save money.

The obvious first step is to buy a small American-made car. How often do you get a chance to support domestic jobs, reduce the country's dependency on exports from unsavory regimes, be environmentally conscious *and* save money?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:20 PM on March 16, 2004


We have a simliar site in Charlotte, NC. I use it often...
posted by Macboy at 1:21 PM on March 16, 2004


It's really sad and scary to see the dollar plumiting, gas prices rising [...] I've never felt so hopeless about the future of this country.

And gas prices, they say, may even hit $3 in some locations by year's end.

Gas costs about $5 per gallon in northern Europe, and incomes are lower on average than those in the US. It's still a decent place to live. I wouldn't worry too much about US gas prices. You're saving money thanks to most other goods whose prices just keep on falling.
posted by Triplanetary at 1:42 PM on March 16, 2004


The obvious first step is to buy a small American-made car.

The last car I had was American and was the reason I had to buy a new car so quickly. It was used, albeit, but when I paid in repairs triple what I paid for the car...it was time to go.

However my smaller Toyota that I've had since HS, which my aunt had two years prior to me is still purring along nicely and may be converted into a hybrid by the now owner - my younger brother.
posted by bkdelong at 1:45 PM on March 16, 2004


There's are two gas stations on opposite sides of the street around the corner from my apartment, and one station charges 15 cents a gallon more than the other. (I think it's $2.25/gallon vs. $2.38/gallon, thank you San Francisco.) Since I mostly use public transit I only have to get gas maybe twice a month, so I don't sweat the prices too much.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:53 PM on March 16, 2004


Can I execute a slight hijack on this thread to ask a question that's been burning in my mind for awhile. Why do gas prices fluctuate so rapidly? I realize this isn't universal, but in the city where I live - Toronto - gas prices change nearly every damned day. Gas is cheapest on Monday (and sometimes Tuesday) and most expensive on Wednesday and Friday. I can't think of any other product that changes price more than once every couple of weeks - and produce is the only one I can think of that does it that often. Everything else, barring sales, just sort of gradually creeps around over longer periods of months and years.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:41 PM on March 16, 2004


I love this country. Injustice, invasion of privacy and folks with no healthcare. The general public yawns. But inconvenience them with a dirty, unrenewable resource costing what it should and they'll threaten to riot in the streets.

I know, I know. Liberty means never having to worry about the consequences of your actions, your car equals freedom and in the small print of the Constitution it says that you have a right to drive two blocks to buy Funions and cigarettes.

Yes, I drive when I have to. But Jeeeesus H. Christ! This really is "give me convenience or give me death!" Spend that energy on reducing the price of things that are truly inflated and that people need, like prescription drugs. Your car is a convenience*.

*Unless you live in a rural area and are poor, in which case you have my sympathy over the situation. Or you're so fat that walking is a huge chore, in which case you don't
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:51 PM on March 16, 2004


"...inconvenience them with a dirty, unrenewable resource costing what it should and they'll threaten to riot in the streets..."

They're the same people who gnash their teeth and rend their garments over not saving a penny or two per minute on long-distance telephone calls, I bet.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:00 PM on March 16, 2004


On a positive note, the Toyota Prius continues to sell out, and Toyota has given Ford license to manufacture vehicles using the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive.

Toyota also plans to convert all Toyota-branded vehicles into hybrids before decade's end.

This will undoubtedly lead to gasoline price increases... but for a good reason.
posted by linux at 3:05 PM on March 16, 2004


The British have been doing this for ages: usually in newspapers, rather than on the web, though it would be a perfect SMS service for mobile phone users: text in your current location and get back the location of the cheapest petrol station.

Supermarket-run (and subsidised) petrol stations are usually a bit cheaper than the big chains. And when you're paying 80p/litre -- which, if I get the sums right, equals $5.80/US gallon -- then shaving a few pence off the per-litre makes a big difference.

There's not much variation across towns and cities, though; local petrol stations try to match prices rather than drive them down. The obvious rules of thumb apply: suburbs are cheaper than inner-cities, which are cheaper than rural areas, which are cheaper than motorway service stations.

Frankly, though, the reason why Americans are feeling the pinch here -- and it's a flea-bite by comparison with the real world -- is because of currency fluctuations. Yes, oil is priced in dollars, but the spot price has risen proportionately to the declining purchasing power of the dollar.
posted by riviera at 3:11 PM on March 16, 2004


Slightly off-topic, if you're looking around for money-saving ideas, I recommend The Tightwad Gazette.
posted by JanetLand at 3:17 PM on March 16, 2004


I would love to see gas prices go through the roof. Many of our problems are caused by cheap gas we need to pay the real cost. Environmental and health included. We are living an unsustainable lifestyle and higher gas prices are the biggest motivator to make changes and reduce things like sprawl, environmental degregation, poor air quality -- in brief, cars as we know them suck and higher gas prices will drive reality home.
posted by stbalbach at 4:09 PM on March 16, 2004


Gas is cheapest on Monday (and sometimes Tuesday) and most expensive on Wednesday and Friday.

Coincidentally, demand is lowest on Monday and Tuesday and higher just before the weekend. Actually, that's not coincidental at all...
posted by kindall at 4:46 PM on March 16, 2004


!
posted by Fezboy! at 8:31 PM on March 16, 2004


Some towns are Gas Buddy towns, and some towns (fewer, though) are Gas Price Watch towns. Generally, I find more results at Gas Buddy and its family of sites rather than Gas Price Watch.
posted by calwatch at 9:39 PM on March 16, 2004


The average price at this link was about $1.75 per US gallon.

The current price per litre here in Korea is about 1400 won, which is around US$1.20.

At a conversion factor of 3.7854 litres per US gallon, that means that gas costs US$4.54 per gallon here.

Count your blessings.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:56 AM on March 17, 2004


Unless you live in a rural area and are poor, in which case you have my sympathy over the situation. Or you're so fat that walking is a huge chore, in which case you don't.

Come live outside any major, older city like Boston. You will be forced to drive almost everywhere for essential needs. You cannot take public transport or ride a bicycle, if you want to keep both your legs, etc. People are lazy, sure, but don't assume that walking is an option in most cases. It's a damned shame, but that's life in non-megalopolis America.
posted by raysmj at 7:58 AM on March 17, 2004


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