Gilson Tsang developed his app Worth the Drive to help people calculate if it's cheaper to drive to buy gas in the U.S. or stay in B.C. Most of the time, Tsang says, it is. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

New app may be the solution for drivers who dither

Take a look at Canada on a world map and what do you see?

The second largest country (after Russia) on the planet, right?

Now, here’s something you probably didn’t know.

As much as 90 per cent of Canada’s population lives within 160 kilometres of the U.S. border, depending on whose counting.

The exact number may be up for debate; what is not is the price of gas.

Fact is, it costs a whole lot less to buy gas for your vehicle south of the 49th parallel than it does anywhere in Canada.

A screen grab from Gilson Tsang’s Worth the Drive gas app, which compares variables such as driving distance, fuel economy and the exchange rate. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Way less.

Gilson Tsang, a systems administrator at at Vancouver hotel who lives in the town of Coquitlam, figured this out a long time ago.

He makes the 80-km round trip from his home town to Blaine, Washington about twice a month and saves himself about $100 for the effort..

Tsang can back those numbers up.

What he couldn’t fathom was why more people didn’t make similar fuel runs.

He decided to do something about it.

Tsang created an app for use on Androids that will crunch all the required numbers and data to prove the trip south is–very, very, very likety–worth it.

Timing is everything when it comes to calculating how much Canadians can save by buying gas in the U.S., but Gilson Tsang says his Worth the Drive app serves as a bellweather for how to save money at the pumps. (CBC)

He says his app, Worth the Drive, consistently shows that even though it may cost between $5 and $10 to get over the border and back, it’s worth it for the $50 savings in filling up your tank and the two cans your allowed to bring back in your trunk.

“I knew my calculations were spot on and I knew everyone aside from me could benefit from this,” Tsang wrote me in a text.

“That’s when I knew I had to create it for everybody so we could start raising awareness for this issue,

“I believe as Canadians we like to complain a lot, we like to discuss a lot, which is fine. But unfortunately as a society, we do not tend to take action.

“Rather, we accept the unpleasantness as faith.

“I like to think that it is not that we are ‘bad at taking action.’ Rather, our society does not have the habit of taking action.”

With gas prices in Canada going through the roof in many places, consumers are trying to find ways to get fuel for less. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Tsang does not consider himself a political activist and has no illusions about the app affecting the rising cost of gas in B.C.

“But it’s definitely a start in the right direction.”

Worth the Drive has been available for about a week. So far, there have been about 5,000 downloads.

An iPhone version is in the works, but Tsang says that’s just a bit down the road.

I had the pleasure of speaking by phone with Tsang about his creation on Wednesday.

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