Research Group: Americans Spent Tax Stimulus On Gas

According to new analysis from the Maryland Public Interest Research Group, the average household spent over $1500 filling their tanks ever since President Bush signed the tax rebates into law on Feb. 13 this year.

The group and transit advocates in Maryland called on Congress to approve additional funding for public transportation as an alternative to high gas prices.

“We need to increase federal funding in public transportation to make it easier for people in the Baltimore area to drive less,” said Richard Chambers, executive director of One Less Car.

According to the research group’s analysis, since February, when President Bush signed the tax rebates into law, the average cost per household for gasoline has gone from just over $60 weekly to almost $100 per week.

Americans have responded to these higher gas costs by taking public transportation at record rates in areas where it is available, while American drivers themselves traveled fewer miles last year for the first time in almost 30 years.

Transit agencies have struggled to keep up with the increased ridership volume. As early as tomorrow, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider the Saving Energy Through Transportation Act, a bill that would authorize close to $2 billion to allow public transit agencies across the country to reduce fares and expand services.

“If Congress wants to do something long-term about high gas prices, it will give people more alternatives to driving,” said Johanna Neumann, Maryland PIRG State Director. “Unless we make it easier to drive less, Maryland families will be stuck in neutral as they spend more and more at the pump.”

Analysis by the research group shows that public transportation created net oil savings totaling 3.4 billion gallons in 2006, enough to fuel 5.8 million cars for an entire year and save about $13.6 billion in gasoline at today’s prices.

Additional analysis showed that neighborhoods around the country with the best access to transit spent an average of $728 monthly on all transportation costs based on 2000 Census data, including gas, insurance, upkeep and transit fares. Households in neighborhoods with the least access to transit, by contrast, spent an average of $925 per month.

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