Gas lines snake through parking lots, independent gas retailers ration supplies, and fights break-out at gasoline-starved filling stations across the Southeast …

Gas shortages throughout the Southeast continue after several oil refineries in the Gulf Coast region were knocked off line after the double whammy of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Though two refineries have plans to ramp up production, Reuters reported that the government expects supply disruptions could continue in some areas of the country for weeks.

According to AAA, Nashville, Tenn. has been hit the hardest by gas shortages — driving prices above $5.00 a gallon in some places. It’s so bad in North Carolina that a community college in the western part of the state canceled classes through the end of the week because students can’t find (or afford) the gas to get to class.

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Keeping on the sunny side of life, some officials are using the gas shortage as an opportunity to raise the profile of public transit in the notoriously car-centric South. The Citizen-Times of Asheville, N.C., ran a story last week in which Mayor Terry Bellamy was quoted as saying: “I encourage our citizens to take advantage of Asheville transit during this time for safe and reliable transportation.”

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The University of North Carolina in Asheville issued a release noting the many alternative transportation options available to students and faculty — such as taking the Asheville City Transit (free for students), riding a bicycle, using the university shuttle, and carpooling via Share the Ride NC.

In Atlanta, an ATL Insider blogger said the chickens are coming home to roost for NIMBY suburbanites:

People in the suburbs … had their chance to have easier MARTA access, but in the past have declined rail extensions due to fear of urban spread and urban crime. As early as 1990 there was a vote to extend MARTA rail to Snellville, Stone Mountain and Gwinnett, which was ardently voted down. And I will say the last I heard, the Cobb Community Transit Express buses were standing room only, so it isn’t like there isn’t a demand for transit options in nearby counties.

And  in Charlotte, N.C., the issues of urban planning and transit access — "I live in Charlotte the nearest bus stop is 2 miles away and there are no sidewalks????" — have been hot topics on an online forum.

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Words of wisdom from the Associated Press: