With gas prices impacted by the current ban on Russian imported oil, getting from place to place has become more expensive and more stressful, especially for those who need a car to access work, groceries and other necessities.
Amy Lee is a doctoral candidate at UC Davis in the transportation, technology and policy graduate group at the Institute of Transportation Studies. She said California exhibits a larger pattern of neighborhoods and communities being developed with car access in mind.
It’s more complicated to get around rising gas prices, she said, than “just take the bus.”
“You have a very different pattern than you’d see in even small towns in the Midwest or on the East Coast,” she said. “We have a pattern within our region that is really hard to navigate by transit. The low densities and very long distances with low density development are very, very challenging to serve well with transit.”
Here are some tips on getting the most out of your gas tank or finding other ways to get around when possible in the Sacramento region.
How to increase your gas mileage
For those who are interested in saving money at the pump and conserving fuel, here are a few tips from Lee and others who work in transportation:
Drive the speed limit consistently.
Lee notes that this has multiple benefits — saving money and having safer local streets. On highways, going 75 or 80 miles per hour is a sizable portion of gas expenditure. She recommends going the speed limit, instead.And Jennifer Donlon Wyant, the city of Sacramento’s Transportation Planning Manager, said most of the crashes Sacramento sees are from people driving too fast.
“If we slow down, we save money in driving around the city, and we're gonna save lives,” Wyant said.
Carpool to work, if you’re working in person.
Other things that are helpful include “the very simple things like carpooling, kind of old fashioned things that we all saw during World War II when we were trying to conserve oil,” Lee said.
Bundling errands together.
Donlon Wyant calls this “tripling.”
“By tripling, I mean, if you have errands to run, you do them all together,” she said. “Rather than go out to the grocery store and come home, and then go out to the department store and come home. If you link them all together in one trip, you'll save a lot of gas.”
Look for “greener” routes.
Last year, Google Maps introduced a new feature called “eco-friendly routing.”
Giovanni Circella, director of the 3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program at UC Davis, examines the impact of automation, electric vehicles and increased mobility via shared rides.
“Google, when they provide routing information, provides options that are greener because of the type of route, the type of driving that will be possible, the number of miles, the speed at which individuals will drive on this route and the need for braking for stop signs,” he said.
Using that routing feature, which displays the route that will take drivers less gas, is one way he said drivers can help optimize their driving and strategize with the car they have in order to increase savings.
You can find more suggestions for how to save money while at the pump here.
And for those who do want to try incorporating less driving into their errand and work routines, here are some of Sacramento’s existing public transit options.
Riding the bus or light rail
The Sacramento Regional Transit network offers a Google transit planner if you want to preview the most efficient bus trip ahead of time.
Paying: There are several options for paying on buses if you don’t have exact change.
- Cash: Accepted at SacRT buses and light rail fare vending machines.
- Credit card: Accepted at most light rail fare vending machines.
- ZipPass: A mobile app available on the App Store or Google Play.
Connect Transit Card: Order and reload a physical card here; you can use it for tap to pay on SacRT buses and light rails.
For those under 18: You can ride the entire SacRT network for free during regular service hours with a school student ID or RydeFreeRT card.Schools distributed RydeFreeRT cards at the start of the 2021-22 school year, but for students and youth who don’t have one, you can visit the SacRT business office at 1225 R Street or ask for one at your local library.
Taking a train
The Capitol Corridor train has a route spanning from San Jose to Auburn-Conheim, with additional train and bus transfers to varying stops, including the San Francisco and San Jose International Airports.
Free transfers: The Capitol Corridor has free transfers to connecting transit providers, including Yolobus, Unitrans and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, if you show your same-day ticket. It also offers free transfers to SacRT, if you pick up a SacRT connecting pass at the Sacramento Amtrak station.
BART tickets: The Capitol Corridor offers transfers to BART at its Richmond and Oakland Coliseum stations and sells prepaid Clipper cards in its Cafe car loaded with $11.
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