"The APC recognizes that gasoline rations are necessary to ensure fuel for the delivery of food, coal, and emergency services, and to support the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Mexico. However, we encourage the government to support the Prius cabdrivers as valid public transportation just like buses or trains, with associated higher fuel rations," said APC spokeswoman Johnna Emery.
The Prius, when driven at the newly established speed limit of 45 miles per hour, gets 50 or more miles per gallon. The APC claims a "rider per trip" average of 3.15 people, which effectively gives a Prius Cab a gas mileage of 157.5 miles per gallon. Since the auto industry was never resuscitated after the coma of 2009, the gas mileage of the Prius has never been exceeded, except by scooters and motorcycles.
Patrick Dobbs, a regular Prius cab customer, said "I just don't know how I would get anywhere in Oklahoma City without the Prius Cab. Since I'm not an employee of a big corporation, I don't have access to the corpbuses like the Chesapeake Chaser or the Devon Daytripper. And frankly, we all know the state of the Oklahoma City public transport system. The Prius Cab gets me to work when I have to actually be physically present instead of telecommuting."
Local Prius Cabbie Shirley Quick agreed, saying "My patented Prius Pick-Me-Up system lets me find clusters of riders who want to go to the same spot. So it's very efficient. It lets people get places that they wouldn't be able to go on their 10 gallon per month ration. I'm glad I bought a Prius before they all disappeared. Once I got laid off, I had this cabbie job to fall back on."
Oklahoma City's public transportation system has not been able to meet demand since the fuel rations took effect last year. Most people are cobbling together a patchwork of transport solutions, including telecommuting, carpooling, biking, walking, and crowding onto the buses that are available. "We are considering our options," said City Transport Officer Dale Rubin. "Since bond funding for any new projects has dried up since '09, we have not been able to buy any new buses. To do so, we would have to increase the price of bus rides or start using smaller vans and other vehicles."
Other cities in the area have been doing just that, using smaller and easy-to-purchase "Feeder" vans to take riders to central "Express" buses which connect the main city arteries. Although the traffic burden has been greatly reduced by the new optional 3-day flexweek and telecommuting tax incentives, most service, healthcare, and farm workers still need to get to work every day.
Many corporate employees have access to the corpbuses, which are funded and fueled by the larger corporations in order to allow their employees to get to work. Devon, Chesapeake, Hobby Lobby, Sonic, and Love's all run corpbuses from the network of "Park-N-Rides" around the city to their corporate headquarters.
Other lucky commuters live close enough to work to use an E-bike, which have been selling like hotcakes all across the country. The E-bike uses small amounts of electricity to boost power on long trips or up hills, but relies mostly on leg-power. Wendy Heineken, a local nurse, says "Sure, I'd like to have a Prius. But what happens when fuel rations get cut again? The E-bike doesn't need any fuel at all. With the bike basket, I can carry my toddler or groceries and get where I need to go. I feel more secure, and a lot more healthy, now that I have it."
Federal government rations have been cut twice since the initial 25 gallon per month limit for families was set. Only a few exceptions have been granted. The Association for Prius Cabdrivers hopes the government will hear their case. "Fuel rations go a lot farther with a Prius cab than with individual commuters. Using a Prius cab allows people to get rid of the burden and expense of caring for a car, while knowing they are getting the best miles per gallon on the planet."