It's all over the papers this morning- Corzine wants a three-month pilot program for the Turnpike for pumping our own gas, to see if it will really save us 5-6 cents a gallon.
The governor has other ideas too, including possibly lowering the speed limit back to 55 in order for us to be more efficient in our gas usage, allowing hybrids to use HOV lanes, gas card incentives for carpoolers and NJ transit rider incentives. From the Times of Trenton:
Corzine last week created the post of director of energy savings to increase energy efficiency in state operations. In a symbolic move, he plans to trade the state-owned SUV he is chauffeured around in for a more fuel-efficient vehicle after working through security concerns with the state police, he said.
"We're serious about trying to hold down consumption. The nation's going to have to do it. New Jersey has to do it, and we are going to have to do this as individuals," he said.
Wow, personal responsibility and reduction of consumption. Wouldn't that be great? But I digress...
The arguments are pretty obvious on both sides. It's incredibly convenient to drive up to a service station in the rain and have the attendant do the work for you. It's incredibly inconvenient to drive up to a service station and wait fifteen minutes until the attendant can get to you, and then an extra five minutes if you pay by credit card for the attendant to process payment. It's unfair to seniors and disabled drivers if they have to pay more for full-serve. It's a job for a worker in Our Fair State, but he has to breathe in all those fumes for 8-12 hours a day.
Let's face it- the driver safety issue that was a big deal in 1949 when this law was enacted is long gone. Forty-eight states allow their drivers to pump their own gas. Since gas prices jumped 14 cents a gallon on the toll roads this morning, I bet we'll try anything.
But the real question is, will a change to our gas-pumping rules really change the price? Will it make a damn bit of difference?
My personal guess is- no, not really, or maybe in the beginning but not for long. Gas station owners set the price for their gas, and they get what they can for it. They have the confines of what they paid for the gas, overhead, and-big one here- competition. After a while prices will creep back to essentially the same level.
What do you think?
(Cross-posted at Bluejersey.net)