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Accelerating gas prices are forcing some students to consider alternate forms of transportation.
Prices have swelled at alarming rate, with USA TODAY reporting that costs have escalated nearly 47 cents a gallon since mid-January.
The current national average is $3.77 for regular unleaded gas, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. In 2012, prices consistently increased from February to April and declined throughout the summer until August.
Michael Gravier, a marketing professor at Bryant University, suggests 2013 could follow a similar trend.
“Now gas changes every week and it causes a lot of anxiety,” Gravier said. “We may see a decrease closer to the warmer months, but for now, it’s a big problem.”
Professor Phil Bessler of Baldwin Wallace University implicates the following factors in the price increase: crude oil, refineries and distribution and retail and taxes.
In order to counter increased gas prices, Bessler suggests drivers decrease their speed to preserve fuel and make the decision to drive less.
“When more people want it, the price of gas drives up, but, when gas spikes, consumers change their demand and the only way to sell is to change the price,” said Bessler.
To combat escalated gas prices, University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) economics professor Thomas Wiseman suggests alternate transportation.
“In the short-run, we can bike more or take buses more,” Wiseman said. “In the long run, we can move closer to our jobs or schools and drive more fuel-efficient cars.”
UT-Austin’s Parking and Transportation Services works to transport students and faculty to campus efficiently, mainly via shuttle services.
Jeri Baker, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services, encourages alternate transportation at all times of the year, not just during a gas spike. A portion of student tuition is allocated to cover shuttle transportation costs, including the price of fuel.
“In general, on any public transportation system, ridership increases when a gas spike makes news for several days,” Baker said. “I think if we can get people to get out of single-occupancy vehicles, it will do the city some good.”
Courtney Sonnier, UT-Austin youth and community studies senior, rides the bus daily to and from school.
“I ride the bus because it’s more reasonable than driving my car every day,” she said. “I get too frustrated driving in Austin traffic and it’s too expensive to drive at almost $4 a gallon.”
Sonnier rides the bus from off-campus housing and uses the 20-to-30 minute ride to study, read for class or relax.
However, Mark Rodriguez, a Texas State University advertising junior, has an internship and job off campus. While Rodriguez rides the shuttle to school every day, he commutes to his job or internship five days per week in his personal vehicle.
“If I’m paying for these bus shuttles through my tuition, I might as well use them,” Rodriguez said. “Luckily, when I drive to work, I make a couple bucks more than minimum wage, so the gas I spend to get there, I get back that day essentially.”
Preparation and money management can take some of the sting out of high gas prices. Rodriguez budgets his finances to accommodate his needs.
“I can’t afford all these expenses that real adulthood throws my way, so if gas continues to rise, I’ll have to cut back and limit myself with a weekly budget,” he said.
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