Fuel Price, Availability, and Mobility: What We Can Learn from North Carolina in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and Oil Shocks of the 1970s and early 1980s

Our transportation systems rely heavily on petroleum. Not only does this reliance contribute to climate change, it also increases our susceptibility to oil supply disruptions. To many experts, it’s not a question of whether or not we’ll experience fuel shortages, but rather when. By planning for those shortages at the local level now, our agencies will be on better footing to respond during an emergency. This paper revisits lessons learned from oil shocks of the 1970s/80s and offers new insights from North Carolina following Hurricane Katrina. Following are some conclusions: 1) Changes in non-work trips may occur far more frequently than changes in work trips. 2) Fuel availability impacts travel behavior much more than price. 3) Transit systems have only limited capabilities for quickly increasing service to respond to emergencies. 4) Although planners in the 1970s and 1980s concluded that fuel shortage planning and response should occur at the lowest levels of government, currently nearly all fuel shortage planning occurs primarily at the state level. 5) In some areas of the U.S. transit agencies may need to remind decision makers of the importance of maintaining transit service during fuel shortages. • Unlike the 1970s and 80s, today there are ample opportunities for telecommuting; however, it is not always well-promoted. 6) Perhaps because energy contingency planning primarily occurs at the state level, some local agencies may feel they are "on their own" in dealing with fuel supply disruptions. 7) In an emergency, reliance on just-in-time fuel delivery is problematic. 8) Government agencies at all levels should better understand their daily fuel requirements, buy some fuel under firm contracts, and reassess how to quickly secure fuel in emergencies. 9) Over the long-term regions should strive to become more self sufficient regarding fuel. This paper also identifies several fuel saving strategies, summarizes an implementation timeframe for these strategies, and recommends actions local government agencies may want to undertake to better prepare for fuel supply disruptions.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: CD-ROM
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 32p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 86th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers CD-ROM

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01054515
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 07-0527
  • Files: BTRIS, TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Feb 8 2007 5:06PM