Students cope with high gas prices


Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 31, 2008 at 11:42 p.m.

University of Florida students are doing everything they can to avoid pulling up to the pump.

Michael Cohen, a UF business student, said he has taken bus trips from Gainesville to Miami more than 10 times, with each round-trip costing $45, the same amount it costs to fill his Mercedes sedan tank with regular gas.

"My gas-guzzling car gets about 15 miles per gallon," Cohen said.

To conserve gas, Cohen says he also car pools with friends. Even with these efforts, he still has to fill up his tank once a week.

"I try to find the cheapest gas station and then glare at the machine as the price rises," Cohen said.

Cohen isn't the only Gainesville college student trying to find ways to beat rising gas prices.

"There is definitely an increase in students taking GMG Transport buses compared to last year," said Lilliam Paez, president of GMG Transport, a bus company geared toward providing students with transportation to South Florida.

According to the AAA Web site's Daily Fuel Gauge Report for 12 of Florida's metropolitan areas, the price of a gallon of regular gas ranges from $3.26 to $3.42. Gainesville's price is the third highest, at an average of $3.39. Only Miami and West Palm Beach-Boca Raton were higher.

Although gas prices may not be the reason for an increase right now, it definitely will be in the near future, Paez said.

According to the AAA Web site, gas prices in Alachua County are among the highest in Florida, currently ranging from $3.31 to $3.45 for a regular gallon of gas.

Although no specific data indicates a direct correlation between an increase in bus riders and an increase in gas prices, the Gainesville Regional Transit System had a 7 percent increase in the number of riders in February versus February 2007, said Theresa Harrison, the RTS marketing and communication specialist.

Another bus company, Greyhound Lines, has offered discounts to help customers cope with rising prices. On Jan. 31, Greyhound dropped prices on select routes and schedules.

One of the nine discounted routes is Miami to Tampa, with the lowest fare at $29 and the highest at $58.50 on weekends, said spokesman Dustin Clark.

UF student Sam Newman said, "Sometimes, I take the Greyhound bus home to Atlanta because it's cheap and safe."

Although bus companies can accommodate students, airlines are having a more difficult time. United Airlines and Continental Airlines announced March 14 that their ticket prices would increase as much as $50 round-trip to cope with increasing oil prices, and other airlines are said to be considering the move, the Associated Press reported.

Students around the U.S. are taking to the Internet to try to reduce gas prices. One form of protest is Facebook groups.

One of the recent groups has more than 386,666 members suggesting consumers buy gas from companies other than Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest oil company. By doing so, the group hopes to force Exxon Mobil to lower its prices and makeforce other oil companies to do the same.

"I joined the group," said Laura Carrell, a UF student. "But, I'm not sure how powerful a Facebook group can be."

To find the lowest gas price in Gainesville go to www.floridastategasprices.com.

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