September 08, 2004

Driving Off

Owen, who drives into the Milwaukee area from an outlying community, won't be buying his gasoline in the city of Milwaukee. Our friend from the left side of town has, as I do, lived in the part of town where pre-pay is already the norm, and doesn't see the inconvenience as a disincentive. Several of the other commenters do, and the time lost going in once to prepay and a second time for change is mentioned. My own comment, responding in part to that scenario, covers a goodly portion of what I myself have to say on the topic.

Actually, you don’t have to go back for change. All you have to do is what I did at the Gas-n-Go at 30th and Vliet today. I knew from my gas gauge that a fill-up would run $12 to $15. I would really rather get a fill-up, but other errands on the way home made that more of an inconvenience. If my errands had taken me in one of the other possible directions, a station in the city might have gotten that larger sale; now the odds are that the tank will next be topped off in the suburbs. Stations in the city wouldn’t lose all my business, but it would be split between the ones here in the inner city which are already prepay and the ones in the suburbs. Even tho my pattern may be atypical, it is another one which, across the entire population, will adversely impact (dare I say, hurt) gas stations in some parts of the city.

Mandating pre-pay as a "solution" to the problem of gas station drive-offs was done to make things easier for law enforcement. The security videotapes may provide positive identification of the vehicle, but every one of the 165 offenses in the city this year seems to have been committed by a friend or cousin passing thru town. The fix for this could have been far more specific. The car got the gas, the car is guilty. You can get the car back for tow fee and restitution, and it is your problem to collect from the hypothetical errant friend or cousin from out of town.

By the way, Emrack states that the nature of our neighborhood can be summed up by a detail regarding the other gas station near us, at 35th and McKinley. Beyond the 24 hour prepay and the No Loitering signs, there is the fact that the rather half-hearted convenience store in the former service bay stocks seven varieties of pork rinds, but no tortilla chips.

Posted by triticale at September 8, 2004 11:38 PM
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