Gas prices

July 31, 2021

Canadians now able to pay with credit card at U.S. gas pumps

Travelling to the US this summer? You'll be happy to hear that gas prices are still about 20% less than we’re paying here. Unfortunately, you may need stacks of cash to buy it.

Billed as an effort to combat card fraud, more and more ‘Zip Code-required’ gas pumps have been popping up along U.S. highways. 

The ZIP-code pump creates hassles for Canadians as it doesn't recognize Canadian postal codes, which include letters as well as numbers. As a result, drivers have to prepay (on-the-spot refunds if you guess wrong aren't attendants' top priority) or leave a credit card inside before filling up.  

But help is at hand, at least in many states. 

When prompted, Canadians can now enter the three numbers in their postal code, and two zeroes. So, if your postal code is A2B 3C4, you enter 23400 and roll on out.

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April 04, 2021

Link parking rates more closely to demand: report

Parking costs are on the rise in most major North American cities as officials grapple with reduced revenue and the political challenges in raising taxes.

Rates across Canada are generally higher with Calgary in the priciest spot at $456 a month, according to a recent survey by Colliers International.

Of the 12 major Canadian cities surveyed, Montreal was deemed the second-most expensive city to park in with a cost of $330 a month, on average – a 12% year-over-year increase. Toronto ($316), Edmonton ($295) and Vancouver ($277) round out the top five most costly Canadian cities.

There's a stack of of variables that go into parking demand, including the price of gasoline and the availability of mass transit. But generally the biggest factor is downtown office vacancy rates. The more office workers looking for space, the greater the demand for parking.

That's why the City of Ottawa is considering shifting its parking rates based on how often spaces are used.

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October 05, 2021

Are you a big fan of ridesharing?

Anyone who lives in a large urban centre knows how tough it can be to get back and forth to work. Hence, the scheduled carpool. By alternating vehicles and drivers equally among carpoolers, the issue of money needn't come up. And you usually know which of your coworkers are creeps.

But what about more occasional trips? Or those that don't have a car to begin with? In these cases, the “riders” would normally pay the driver an agreed-upon amount to help out with driving costs.

But is it smart? Safe? What about insurance issues, for instance?

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May 03, 2021

Is it time for more toll roads in Canada's biggest cities?

Even though quite common in the United States, tollbooth is a four-letter word to most Canadian motorists.

The underlying idea is simple enough – if roads are considered "free," then motorists won't use them wisely. A toll on the major highways during peak hours will make us think more about living closer to work, telecommuting or travelling the highways at non-peak times

And this view seems to be gaining traction.

The majority of urban drivers say they're willing to pay for alternatives to commuting on congested roads five days a week, according to a new study of GTA drivers who face a daily commute of at least 30 minutes each way.

While well over half of the drivers were willing to pay a road toll, sales tax or parking fee, 69 per cent said they would be more supportive if they knew the funds would go directly to expanding rapid transit in the region.

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April 19, 2021

Do you expect to be driving less than your parents once did?

Are you driving less than your parents? Is it urban living? Gas prices? Environmental concerns? Or simply the fact that you're just not that into cars? 

It does seem that young people are making more use of transit, bikes, and foot power to get around.

In 2009, 16 to 34-year-olds took 24% more bike trips than they took in 2001. They walked to their destinations 16% more often, while their passenger miles on transit jumped by 40%, according to U of T professor Richard Florida writing in this month's Atlantic.

Part of the reason for this shift is clearly financial. Many underemployed young people have decided that they either can’t afford a car or would rather spend their money on other things. Florida cites a Zipcar/KRC Research survey, which found that 80% of 18 to 34-year-olds felt the high cost of gas, parking, and maintenance made owning a car difficult.

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April 04, 2021

Do higher gas prices really affect how you drive?

Gas prices have been on the rise in recent weeks and are already taking a toll on consumers’ wallets, particularly in the United States -- or so the folks across the border would have us believe.

70% say recent price increases in gas have caused financial hardship in their households — about triple the number from only a few months ago.

Of course, our American friends still aren’t really paying a lot for gas. The state-by-state average ranges from $3.53 a gallon in Wyoming to $4.37 in California.

In Canadian terms that works out to a low of 90¢ a litre to a high of about $1.16. Even though gas prices here jumped again this morning, that’s still lower than every Canadian province but Alberta, however.

Angry motorists say it’s highway robbery to be charged $1.40 for a litre of gas. But do they drive less as a result? Apparently not.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...