admin's picture

Drivers look for ways to cut mileage

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March 18, 2008) – Pat Florig leaves her Upper Tumon office at least half an hour past the end of her workday to avoid getting stuck in rush-hour traffic so she can save on gas money.

Yigo resident Ben Cruz may forgo driving his elementary-age kids to relatives on the other end of the island this Easter break because his gasoline budget is close to getting tapped out -- and the week has just started.

Guam gasoline prices have climbed again, and the lifestyle-changing reality hit island consumers as another workweek began yesterday.

Regular grade gasoline has gone up at some Mobil stations by 10 cents to $4.01 a gallon.

Shell and 76 pumps still displayed the old price of $3.91 a gallon yesterday, but all three gasoline brands available on Guam have historically mirrored each other's prices within a few days of one brand's price adjustment. Premium gas is now $4.18 a gallon.

The $4.01 a gallon price is double what Guam consumers used to pay at the pumps a few years ago. In 2003, regular grade cost less than $2 a gallon.

Georgia Borja was pumping gasoline at a Mobil station yesterday and was surprised by the latest price increase.

Gasoline is not the only basic consumer item that has become more costly -- prices of food and other grocery items have increased, too, Borja said.

These price increases have altered the way island residents live.

For Yigo resident Cruz, what once was a weekly trip from Yigo to see relatives in southern villages has become a rarity.

He said the 5-year-old truck he's driving now costs him almost $60 a week to fill up, and a few years ago it was half that cost.

While Guam consumers are experiencing financial strain from price increases, the average hourly wage increase in the private sector has not kept pace. On average, Guam workers employed in the private sector make $11 an hour, and had a 4 percent increase in hourly pay last year compared to what they made in 2006, according to the latest quarterly employment data.

With an average 44-cent hourly increase in pay, it would take more than two hours of work for the average hourly worker to recoup the $1-a-gallon gasoline price increase that has occurred between March last year and this month.

Fidel Barantes, an air conditioning and refrigeration technician, said he copes with higher gasoline prices by not using his work truck when his job is done for the day. For personal trips, he uses a more fuel-efficient, four-cylinder car.

As a long-term goal, Barantes said he's considering a diesel-powered vehicle, because diesel gives much more mileage than gasoline.

When in the market for a new car, Florig said, island consumers may want to choose fuel-efficient vehicles.

But even without changing vehicles, there are ways to reduce spending on gasoline, said Florig, whose job as a program coordinator III at the Guam Energy Office includes educating people on energy efficiency.

By simply keeping the proper tire pressure, regularly changing the oil and removing unnecessary items from your car, your gas mileage will greatly improve, Florig said.

"I practice what I preach," she said.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment