It seems that the era of cheap oil has ended. As events over the past few weeks have made clear, we all need to either resign ourselves to paying significantly higher prices to fuel our cars, or switch, at least occasionally, to alternative transportation, including biking, walking, taking the bus or rail.
There’s finally more acceptance of this as a reality. It’s even leaching into entertainment, with younger actors in an AMC serial drama portraying an older era, being proponents of high-speed rail and walking the walk by taking public transportation to work, despite being able to afford other options. Two lead actors from the hit television show "Mad Men" throw their support behind high-speed rail in a humorous new online video posted Wednesday on Funnyordie.com.
The actors and U.S. PIRG, a national advocacy organization, developed the video in conjunction with the popular online video site as a way to reach new audiences and build excitement for high-speed rail projects around the country.
Vincent Kartheiser, who plays Pete Campbell, and Rich Sommer, who plays Harry Crane, born in 1979 and 1978, respectively, according to IMDB.com, are true to their characters on the show, playing Madison Avenue ad men in 1965.
The short scene draws many parallels between then and now, which are both funny and disturbing: Japan embracing and still being far ahead of us on high-speed rail; all the ad dollars spent on telling the American consumer how “sexy and powerful” cars are; using traffic and parking hassles as selling points; and comparing them to airplanes. Toward the end, Harry delivers a great line when assuring Pete he doesn’t have to worry about selling rail to the public: "But, honestly, I think you can relax on this whole thing. I read that in 40 years, gas is going to cost almost one dollar a gallon.”
If only that were true. With all the uprisings happening in the Middle East, a primary source of the world’s oil, we may have finally seen the end of cheap and easily accessible petroleum, says professor and author Michael T. Klare. The “old oil order,” as he puts it in an article published by TomDispatch.com and grist, is dying.
While cheap oil “has made possible the automobile, the aviation industry, suburbia, mechanized agriculture and an explosion of economic globalization,” Klare writes, and “a handful of major oil-producing areas launched the Petroleum Age — the U.S., Mexico, Venezuela, Romania, the area around Baku (in what was then the Czarist Russian empire), and the Dutch East Indies — it's been the Middle East that has quenched the world's thirst for oil since World War II.”
So, if we lose our primary pusher for our cheap fossil fuel fix, what’s next? Will it be high-speed rail? Personal Rapid Transit? Far into the future, when we’re all fossils, and the entertainers of tomorrow make a “video” set in our current era, will eco-conscious actors still be mocking the fact that we can’t give up our cars? Or, will we finally have evolved a few steps ahead, with the joke being that high-speed trains is one of those antiquated ways of yesterday?
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Are public tweetings in your future?" here.
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Driving a bus never looked easy. Living in California and being stuck in my car as much as I am, I’ve always had tremendous respect for the men and women who operate buses on a daily basis. So, when the call came that I would get my shot to drive in Sunday’s APTA Bus Roadeo, I was both excited and nervous.