"Four out of ten professionals we interviewed said that higher gas prices have affected their commutes. That's up 34 percent from two years ago. The exact same summary had come up, and that was when gas was $3, approaching $3 a gallon." Ed: "What sorts of changes in their commute?" "We've actually seen a lot more car pooling, ride sharing, telecommuting. We've even see people do more — or taking advantage of — public transportation. There are quite a few companies that are even offering discounted bus passes that they hadn't before."
Olson says employees and employers should talk about options.
"Employers really should make their employees aware that they understand. By just, you know, pushing it under the carpet is what's gonna cause issues. So just let them know that there are options out there, and present carpool and things like that. And then for employees, I would say is okay to ask, but just make sure that you're prepared with your business case. So, some advice to both sides of the house."
Companies are increasing the mileage allowance they pay to those whose job involves their car.
"One of the things that we've found is that many companies are reviewing the percentage of mileage that they are reimbursing their employees for, and now they're usually people that are not doing the day-to-day commute, but people that have to drive for the job. Many clients have offered, you know, telecommuting and have offered discounted bus passes in the past, or car pooling. But this is the time they've actually needed to bring it to their employees' attention. So many of them, it was already there, but people weren't taking advantage of it."
Olson says gasoline prices haven't reached the tipping point yet that would make employees consider changing jobs for shorter commutes.
"And many people say, 'you know what? Right now, they're not willing to make any changes.' You know, it's just, they just see it as a part of commuting and a part of working. So it truly means that there would have to be a still a dramatic upkeep in order to affect people and what they would think about doing and if they should do anything about their current employment situation."
About a third of the respondents indicate they're considering driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.