(Re-posted from a comment left at O. Willis.)
Atlantans prefer driving over mass transit by a substantial margin. It could be argued that more of us would hop on MARTA if only the system were more expansive, rail especially. But take away our ability to hop in the car on a whim and go from the suburbs to downtown or vice versa, and people get mad in a hurry. And that is exactly what the gas shortage has done.
Here is how the week has gone: I pass about five gas stations during my eight mile morning commute from home to work. Of these five, only one has been likely to have gasoline. That one station will have lines of cars stretching out for a quarter-mile or more. Co-workers of mine have waited in such lines for almost an hour. And yes, people have run their tanks dry this way.
Our gasoline is brought up from the Gulf by companies like Colonial Pipeline. The pipeline pulls the fuel up to distribution centers. Tankers take the product those final miles to the stations. Gas stations get shipments of around 3,000 gallons at a time, from what I’ve read. Normally, this is enough to get them through most of a week. But with everyone and their cousin lining up at the sight of an arriving tanker — people have been stalking tanker trucks, by the way — 3,000 gallons is gone before lunchtime.
So why do they all line up? Because we have no reliable information. We cannot plan. News from earlier this week hinted that supplies should be back to normal by this Wednesday (it wasn’t) or next Wednesday. Our governor told us yesterday that the situation will settle down in “a few days.” He said also that this is a panic we’ve made ourselves, unhelpfully.
So yeah, people here are panicking a bit. But not without reason. Empty my cupboard, then don’t tell me when I’m going to eat again and I’m probably going to seize the next opportunity to grab a bite. If only Colonial Pipeline would keep us in the loop. Or maybe if our Governor would institute a plan of action, like maybe closing stations for a day or two, long enough for all of them to get back to normal inventory. Or they could do as stations are doing up in Chattanooga, holding people to only $30 or $40 worth of gas at a time. Limiting purchases at the pump would be annoying, but we’d get over it.
This is imminently manageable, but we are at a loss for management.
Now we’ve seen how Sonny Perdue handles a couple of major crises. Last year, it was a lack of water, and he arrived late with a solution. This year, we’ve a lack of gasoline, and he’s arriving late with a suggestion. We should all just stay home this weekend, he says, because this panic is “self-induced” (and there might not be any shortage at all). Point taken, but repeating the same advice as the local news-jockeys is the same as telling us all that we’re all a bunch of idiots who have created our own problem. If we had the resources to do some planning, then maybe we wouldn’t be panicking.
You’re a governor, so maybe you might want to … I don’t know … govern. And thanks for allowing us to have “dirty” gas, but why follow it up with the same “oh, it’ll be better in a few days” kind of elusivity* of information? Dates. Facts. That’s what we don’t have and that’s what we need.
So … the only good thing that might come of this? If people remember how Sonny has handled the water and gas shortages, then maybe he’ll have to go back to being a full-time vet in 2010.
* – Did I just make up a word? Firefox thinks so.