Rising cost of fuel sees motorists leave keys at home
JENNY Edwards settles into her car, pulls away, then stops halfway through her journey and gets out.
She climbs aboard a bus and completes her trek in to work.
Jenny may be manager of Swansea's Environment Centre and a disciple of all things green. But her chosen mode of transport to complete her trip is heavily influenced by the rising cost of fuel.
Doing it that way halves her 'on-the-road' bill.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
And the seemingly ever-escalating petrol and diesel costs are hitting people far and wide.
Growing numbers are now thinking twice before climbing into their vehicles and ' popping to the shops' a few yards away for a pint of milk. Many others are now putting just a tenner's worth of fuel in rather than filling there tanks up at a cost of £80 or more.
This month's AA Fuel Price Report shows that the average cost of petrol in the UK is now 138.32p a litre, up 5.61p on January. Diesel now averages 145.10p a litre, an increase of 4.78p compared to the middle of last month.
The 6.24p-a-litre hike in petrol prices since they started to rise in early January has added £3.12 to the cost of a typical 50-litre refill. Filling up the 70-litre tank of a Ford Mondeo now costs £4.37 more than six weeks ago. A two-car family's monthly petrol cost has risen £13.25 with the current price surge.
The AA is now urging Chancellor George Osborne to remove a duty rise planned for September from next month's Budget. The Chancellor has frozen or deferred duty rises since March 2011 when he cut it by 1p. The motoring organisation's president Edmund King says the latest surge in fuel prices and its impact on spending "indicates that UK drivers and families can't take any more".
"We're no longer talking of the motorist as a cash cow for tax and speculator greed, but a horse slowly but surely being flogged to death," he adds.
Many will now surely agree.
Jenny travels to and from Gorseinon to Pier Street, near the marina, for work.
"I use park and ride from Fforestfach to the city centre," she says. "It has halved my fuel bill. Instead of doing 10 miles a day in the car I am doing five. I use the bus about four times a week as I usually have to use the car for a meeting at some point in the week."
There is, though, obviously an extra cost involved for the bus element of her journey. But she feels it makes economic sense.
"The cost is £2.50 return, but if I buy a book of 10 tickets I get it for £2.20," says Jenny. "It saves me the stress of having to move my car every two hours or paying £6 for the car park behind work.
"I have used the park and ride more in the last couple of years with rising fuel bills. I find I am only filling up once a fortnight rather than once a week. I also changed to diesel because it is more economical."
Jackie Hunt, general manager of Swansea-based Data Cabs, which has 103 cars on its books, says all its cars are individually owned.
But such is the strength of feeling over prices some have now handed their badges back.
"It does have an effect," she adds.
"Prices for customers only change every one or two years, but it is costing us more. We have had a few who stopped. They can't make a living out of it like they used to."
Swansea Bay cycling campaign group Wheelrights pinned its colours to the mast from day one.
President David Judd would rather everyone hop on a bike, but knows that that is not practical. Instead he advocates a commonsense approach to save money on fuel costs, and help the environment at the same time.
"If a journey is practical by bike then use a bike, but if the weather is really bad or the journey is too long, then people will probably use the car," he says. "But for families on days out there has been quite a change with them being more active and cycling more."
He feels rising fuel costs are forcing people to think again.
"Most time the trip in the car is less than two miles," he says. "There is wear and tear on the car and the car has not had time to warm up. It is more economical on the longer trips after it has warmed up. You can save serious amounts of fuel by cutting out the smaller trips in traffic and using the car for longer journeys."
And further to February's AA Fuel Price Report, new HM Revenue and Customs figures show that January's UK petrol sales fell to the lowest tracked by government in 23 years.
Drivers consumed 1.465 billion litres of petrol last month, down 14 million litres on the previous all-time low set in March last year and nearly 100 million litres below December's consumption. Against an average of 1.548 billion litres in January 2012, last month's consumption fell 83 million litres or 5.4 per cent.
Motorist Peter Hill, 47, from Tycoch in Swansea, says while prices have still not reached their peak of that in the spring of 2008, they are only going one way, "and that's up".
He adds: "I saw an old photograph the other day and it happened to have a garage forecourt in it. The prices on it were £1 a gallon. That was in 2006. Just look at where we are now."