The Alternative Fuels & Vehicles National Conference + Exposition was held this month in Las Vegas. After spirited meetings among fleet managers from across the country, no fortuitous silver bullet to cure the fuel crisis was found. The ideas bandied about are decades old and not feasible for at least another decade.
John Dinkle, automotive author and past editor of Road & Track Magazine weighed in with, "I look at all the alternative fuel projects and I equate that with Band-Aid engineering." He went on to suggest that what he believes has to happen is government-sponsored research into every type of alternative fuel and the development of more efficient and longer-lasting batteries, something akin to a "Manhattan Project" for fuel.
One Green Valley service station in Las Vegas caused a sensation by offering $10,000 of free gasoline. Eager customers lined up the night before the early morning opening.
New criminal activity has been spawned by the high gasoline prices. A popular spot for a heist are waste oil bins at the numerous Las Vegas restaurants, especially along the Strip.
Also, criminal ingenuity has tackled the problem of siphoning gas from cars in a new way. It doesn't matter if you have a self-locking gas cap — that is old hat. Twice, gas has been siphoned from vehicles parked nicely in rows inside auto shops. The modus operandi is to crawl under the car and jam a hole into the tank; the gas flows nicely into a container brought by the thief. The next day, the owner of the auto shop is busy repairing tanks and replacing the gasoline for his customers.
Las Vegans and Western Petroleum Marketers Association members were saddened to hear of the death of Barney Rawlings. WPMA members will always recall Barney's spirited singing of our National Anthem at each Keynote Session for many years.
It's a good thing many Las Vegas students are on vacation. In spite of the fact they pay at least 80 cents per gallon less for diesel fuel than the price charged the general public, the Clark County School District saw its monthly fuel bill soar from $750,000 to roughly $1.3 million over the past year as a result of the ever-rising gasoline prices. In just the last four months, the cost was up 62 percent.
Drastic plans are in order for this summer and the commencement of school in the fall. Reducing the number of stops the buses make means more children are going to be walking longer distances. Also on the planning table is reevaluating the use of school buses for after-school activities, including travel by sports teams.
One solution on the drawing table is opening a bus yard in the Northwest Valley. It is estimated the yard could save the School District up to 3 million a year in fuel costs.
Meanwhile, at the Regional Transportation Commission, the higher fuel costs have prompted officials to replace older buses with new more fuel-efficient ones.
In Las Vegas, the Metro Police Department report their fuel prices increased 22 percent in the last year. Consequently, they have bought more fuel efficient cars and also cars using ethanol-based E85 fuel, which is less expensive than gasoline.
While E85 remains less expensive than regular unleaded gas, many independent tests have concluded it also delivers fewer miles per gallon. Talk about a Catch 22! One wag commented, "If we put more of our officers on foot, we doubt the criminals are cutting back on their activities just because of higher gasoline prices. The prices may be higher but policemen will be slower."
It looks like the cost of a cab in Las Vegas is going to have a temporary 25 cents per mile added on the the meter until fuel prices lower. Also, if the average cost of gasoline reaches $5 a gallon for five days in a row, the Nevada Taxicab Authority can consider additional adjustments.
More people in Las Vegas are being taken for a ride — a bus ride that is. Standing in the simmering summer heat to await transportation is the lot of many drivers who have had to give up their cars in the wake of the rise in gasoline prices.
While it is in the triple digits in Las Vegas and February seems far away, the 56th Western Petroleum Marketers 56th Annual Convention has been planned for February 17-19, 2009 at the Mirage Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV. Watch your mail for registration materials.
Originally published in the August 2008 issue of the O&A Marketing News.
Copyright 2008 by KAL Publications Inc.
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