Archive for Monday, September 5, 2005

Commuters look for ways to cut corners on fuel budgets

September 5, 2005


Marni and David Penrod each make a 30-mile round-trip commute between their southwest Douglas County home and their jobs in Lawrence every workday.

"We'd probably ride together, but we have different schedules," said Marni Penrod, who serves as a deputy clerk in the Douglas County Clerk's office. "It's just not that easy. But we've been considering it."

Marni Penrod said it's a subject she and her husband may have to check into if gas prices hold steady at $3 a gallon or continue to increase. Between the two of them, they spend about $60 a week on gas.

High gas prices are causing many to take a hard look at their budget and their travel patterns in attempts to cut transportation costs. Sixty-eight percent of Lawrence residents live within 20 minutes of work, according the 2000 U.S. Census. Census data also showed 10 percent of Lawrence residents drive more than 45 minutes to work, higher than the statewide average of 6.8 percent.

Carpool help

To find out more about the Mid-America Regional Council RideShare Program, call (816) 842-7433 or go online to

For the Penrods, the higher gas prices mean no longer making special trips to Lawrence on Saturdays for grocery shopping. Instead, they do the shopping after work on Friday.

"My husband and I decided to make some other changes, too," Marni Penrod said. "We've gotten rid of some of the luxuries in our budget, like eating out. We both try to pack and bring lunch to work. We've been eating out less as a family, too."

More area commuters are looking at carpooling options.

The Mid-America Regional Council RideShare Program added 33 people on Thursday to its database of 2,500 commuters involved or interested in carpooling to work or school.

"We know that, by and large, this is happening because of the gas prices," MARC RideShare program manager Marge Gasnick said. "The gas prices have had a big impact on our program."

Established in 1980, RideShare is a publicly funded commuter-matching service for anyone who lives, works or attends school in the Kansas City area or within 75 miles of downtown Kansas City, Mo. The program serves commuters from 11 counties in Kansas and 18 counties in Missouri, Gasnick said.

Seventy users of the free service are from Lawrence, she said.

"We're certainly very open to having a lot more people," Gasnick said. The gas prices may be a burden, she said, but the upside has been that more people have been interested in using the RideShare program. That can help with personal budgets and the environment, Gasnick said.

Val Renault carpools to work at the KU Med Center from Lawrence with four people. She's been carpooling to work for three years. Her father was a conservationist and on trips would point out cars with just one person in them.

"Wanting to be a good steward of the environment was the main reason I wanted to carpool," Renault said. "But it's great to think that it also is saving me money. Sure, I still have to pay the same price as everyone else for gas. But at least I'm not having to constantly fill up my tank."


Richard Heckler 12 years, 9 months ago

Commuters may begin selling homes and moving closer to work as gas prices are expected to surge one more dollar after labor day.

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