COMMENTS: Driving Us Crazy

The rising price of gasoline inspired a feature on ABC, a poignant human interest story on NBC and entire weeklong, two correspondent, morning-and-evening series on CBS.

NBC's Pete Williams followed up on a sitdown on his network's Today by two pairs of fundamentalist Mormon parents from the Yearning for Zion ranch about their problems visiting their children in foster care. Despite the order of the child welfare judge in the case to make "every effort to place siblings together," Nancy and James Dockstader have one child in care in Amarillo in the Panhandle, one child on the Gulf Coast in Corpus Christi and three other children at places in between. With the high price of gasoline "it is costing us thousands of dollars to traipse from one end of the state to the next," complained mother Dockstader.

CBS' series is called Eye on the Road and it involves a pair of cross country coast-to-heartland road trips, Nancy Cordes east to west westwards to Missouri driving a Ford Fusion, and The Early Show's Jeff Glor west to east eastwards in a hybrid Toyota Prius. Glor ended his first day at Lake Tahoe where he noticed changing vacation habits because of the high cost of fuel. Parked in a local camp ground is a Recreational Vehicle whose fuel efficiency is 7mpg. To save money this year the RV's journey away from home is the grand total of three miles.

CBS' Cordes ended the day in Pittsburgh, having filed on the tribulations of so-called supercommuters, those exurban residents whose journey to work exceeds 90 minutes. Cordes told us that there are now 95% more of them than in 1990. Despite the high price of gasoline, "we are a nation of drivers," Cordes insisted. "Only 5% of the country's commuters take public transportation." Now listen to Barbara Pinto (embargoed link) on ABC. She announced "a new breed of commuter" that is "flooding mass transit systems." She listed increased transit ridership from Seattle to Philadelphia, from Buffalo to Miami to Los Angeles. Pinto and Cordes should get their heads together to get the story straight. Cordes claims that it costs just $300 each month for a supercommute. Pinto quoted that statistic that an average commuter--not even a super one--saves $6200 annually by switching from car to mass transit. Fact check please.


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