Janesville60.1°

'You do what you have to do' to when it comes to gas prices

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Catherine W. Idzerda
April 18, 2011
— It looks like a drunken statistician has been working on AAA’s “Daily Fuel Gauge Report.”

Either that or the creator/compiler of the “12-month Average for Regular” graph fell asleep in the middle of the job, causing his or her pen to veer violently upward.


On Sunday, the average cost for a gallon of gasoline in Wisconsin was $3.88, according to AAA.


That’s up almost a dollar from a year ago and close to the highest average in state history: $4.14 recorded July 17, 2008.


Local residents and travelers say the price of gas is changing their habits, but they also say there is not much they can do. Work, school and family obligations won’t lessen because gas prices go up.


Fuel prices started their steady climb in August 2010, when the state average was $2.72 a gallon. By Jan. 1, 2011, the price was $3.12. From there, prices took off, rocketing rapidly upward.


On Sunday, Rosemauri Katz stopped at the Lions Quick Mart on Milton Avenue to fill up. Katz was traveling from her home in Duluth, Minn., to visit family in Indianapolis.


“It does have an impact on your day-to-day life, but you do what you have to do,” Katz said.


It usually costs her about $65 in gas to make the trip to Indianapolis. She expects this trip to cost about $150.


“I know politicians are dealing with a lot of economic issues,” Katz said. “But this affects the economy, too.”


Katz said she and her husband hope to sell their home in Duluth and move to be closer to her family, eliminating the expense and time involved in such trips.


Angela Werle said her family members are changing their driving habits.


“My husband works in Milwaukee,” she said as she filled up. “He’s been driving our kids’ car. It’s an old Toyota and gets better gas mileage than his truck.”


He is also tuning up his motorcycle—an even more fuel-efficient vehicle—so he can ride that to work when it’s warmer.


Werle wishes she could ride her bike to work. She lives near Craig High School and works in Milton.


“Highway 26 is just too busy; it’s too dangerous,” Werle said as she finished putting $51.50 worth of gas into her car.


While rising gas prices are causing middle class pain, some low-income people have been immobilized by them.


Susana Hernandez is a math teacher and coordinator for Project AHEAD at UW-Rock County.


Hernandez works with students from high-risk populations. Some have criminal histories, have limited educations or only GEDs and face other struggles.


“It’s funny you should ask about gas prices,” Hernandez said. “I’ve given out $354 worth of bus tickets to students.”


The tickets are for the Beloit-Janesville Express.


Last year, her bus tickets “stash” carried her through the whole year and then some.


Riding the bus takes additional planning by the students, many of whom already struggle with time constraints related to outside jobs and child care.


She and other professors have heard from students who are struggling to get to school, and the idea of a “carpooling bulletin board” has resurfaced.


“I had a student from Madison who said to me, ‘I won’t be in class tomorrow. I don’t have the gas money,’” she said.



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