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Gas prices could tank small transportation firms
Gasoline prices in
Last week, unleaded gas cost an average of $3.72 per gallon in the state – 4 cents more than the previous week. Some analysts have predicted highs in the $4 to $5 range this summer. By contrast, last year at this time, the average price of regular gas was $3.40. And drivers may be feeling nostalgic for April 2010, when
The steady rise in fuel prices “is having a big effect” on business, said Tricia Wallack, owner of 5 Starr Taxi in
“It’s brutal,” said Wallack, who is already sharing the cost of gas and tolls with her drivers. “For some of my customers who use a taxi to go back and forth to work, it’s hitting them as hard as having a car themselves.”
Wallack said some low-income residents opt for cabs to get to work so they don’t have to arrange their lives around a bus schedule. If they’re priced out, “That single mom or single parent will have to get up an hour earlier to get to work, and come home an hour and a half later,” she said. “But as a business owner I don’t know how long I can stay at the regular rates. It’s hitting my pocket, too.”
While some taxi drivers are trying to stay local to conserve fuel, Wallack said the short “stop-start” runs burn more gas and are more expensive.
Local limousine companies have also seen a drop in business, said Sherry Brohl, who has operated Diamond Limousine in
“People are cutting out limousines for airport runs, proms, weddings, because of the economy,” said Brohl. “We used to do a lot of Phillies and Eagles games. Now there’s not too much.”
Brohl has held off increasing her rates, even as some limo services are asking clients to pick up the tab for gas and tolls.
“I’m going to hang in there, keep hold of my regular customers,” she said. “So many people who are friends went out of business.”
Brothers Brian and Bill Conover started All Star Limousine in Somers Point last year. The majority of their business comes from Pennsylvanians who own homes in
“We talk about it all the time,” said Bill Conover of gas prices. “To go back and forth to
High gas prices have been blamed on a number of factors: instability in the Middle East, and locally, the closure of two oil refineries in
Escalating prices also have been blamed on a drop in demand due to the recession. But the last time demand dropped, in 2008, so did the prices, plummeting from $4 a gallon to about $2. Unfortunately for Americans, due to an explosion in the Chinese middle class, oil companies are shipping record amounts of refined petroleum products to Asia, and oil is also in demand in
Van Drew supports the development of multiple energy sources including coal and oil, wind and solar, along with nuclear power.
“I do believe in renewable energy, but anyone who tells you solar and wind can do it all is wrong,” he said. “We’ll be relying on fossil fuels for quite a while.”
Asked how they will cope with the problem long-term, the Conovers said they may convert their two vans to run on compressed gas, like jitneys, which cost the equivalent of $1.75 per gallon to run. “It’s clean, it’s economical, it’s sustainable,” said Bill Conover.
Meanwhile, Brohl is hoping to drum up more business this spring.
“If you need a limo, call me,” said Brohl. “I’ll take you to Wawa, wherever.”