Mass transit, travel plans are feeling the heat of higher fuel prices

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Public transportation feeling the heat of higher fuel prices
GoTriangle uses 35,000 gallons of fuel a month between Wake, Durham and Orange counties and is watching rising fuel costs with some concern.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Travel experts say fuel prices were already forecasted to go up before the president's new announcement on Russian oil sanctions.

AAA Carolinas said it is unclear what effect it will have on spring and summer travel.

"People are really eager to get out and travel and we expect 90% or more of those are going to be doing so through road trips. We don't think higher gas prices are going to deter them from doing that. But it's still too early to tell," said Tiffany Wright with AAA Carolinas.

Travel agent Stacy Gray, with Adjust to the Good Life Travel, is finding that her clients are wanting to travel; regardless of the price because they've largely stayed home during the pandemic.

Many people are choosing the Caribbean and cruises for their travel plans as they are easy to get to.

People are ready to travel but the price of fuel and other items are making them think twice.

She largely recommends using a travel agent to book travel because she can almost always save money for her clients on booking group travel or packaging travel deals together. Booking a la carte often costs travelers more money.

"Flying during a time that's not a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to a destination will often save you money on the flight for sure," said Gray. She also recommends buying travel insurance to protect yourself in the event of a covered emergency.

Tuesday and Wednesday remain the best days to purchase your tickets and the best days to fly.

Adriana Pardo of Raleigh is traveling soon to Orlando.

"Once we bought the tickets, we were locked in at this point," Pardo said. Despite paying a higher price for tickets, Pardo added, "we're just really excited to get away."

Still, she does worry about inflation and spiraling gas, food and other costs.

"I guess if it gets high enough, we might have to cancel," she said.

Adam Duston, another Raleigh resident, doesn't have any travel booked but like many, complained about the price of gas.

"It went from like $2.35 (per gallon) to like almost $5 a gallon," Duston said.

He worried that it could reach $7 a gallon by mid-summer.

AS for vacation plans, Duston said it's not impossible, but will take some work.

"I wanted to go to the Bahamas, but we got to save," Duston said. But I'm quite sure when the summer gets here, my lady will probably want to go somewhere, and I'll have to research it."

Public transportation is also feeling the pinch from the soaring gas prices.

GoTriangle uses 35,000 gallons of fuel a month between Wake, Durham and Orange counties.

It has 74 large passenger buses, and only two of them are electric.

Right now, GoTriangle gets a discount on diesel and unleaded regular gas, paying less than $3.15 per gallon for both.

"While we did forecast some cost increases certainly, I have a feeling these cost increases are going to go above and beyond the forecast and we are going to have to find savings so we can cover the service we can provide," said Chuck Lattuca, CEO of GoTriangle.

These cost concerns will factor into next year's budget which starts July 1.

The good news is that GoTriangle says bus fares will remain free for another year or more.

And ridership is still down since the beginning of the pandemic from 7,200 trips a month to 4,800.

Analysts say the higher price and demand for gas amid new Russian oil sanctions will be added to your ticket price.

"Try to get those flights booked, especially if you're hoping to travel this summer or this fall or even in the winter. if you don't book it today and then you wait three months to book your flights, well, it's very possible that flight prices could be significantly higher by then," said Scott Keyes, founder of Cheap Flights.